The Western Kentucky University baseball team rallied late, but it was not enough as they dropped the finale of a three-game Sun Belt Conference series to Arkansas State 6-4 Sunday afternoon at Nick Denes Field.
WKU dropped two of three to the Indians on the weekend as it fell to 15-18 overall and 7-8 in Sun Belt game. ASU improved to 16-23 and 8-10 in the league.
Both WKU starter Bart Carter and Arkansas State hurler T.J. Brewer kept the bats quiet in the early stages of the game as the only Hilltopper run off Brewer came with two outs in the third when Terrence Dayleg homered over the wall in left-center to put WKU in front 1-0.
Carter was equally impressive as he blanked ASU until the fifth when Drew Rogers led off the inning with a double, and came around later in the frame to score on an Aaron Ferguson sacrifice fly to tie things up at 1-1. Brandon Eller gave the Indians the lead an inning later with a leadoff home run, and a Guy Brown RBI single off reliever Colby Beach stretched the ASU lead to 3-1.
Arkansas State was able to stretch it lead out in the seventh when a Tyler Doke single scored Jordan Kimball, and Eller lifted a sacrifice fly that plated Ferguson to make it a 5-1 game.
The Toppers threatened in the bottom of the seventh as they loaded the bases with just one out. However, ASU reliever Nick Lambert was able to get Casey Hamilton to pop up before Troy Frazier grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning and keep it a four-run game.
The Indians added an unearned run in the eighth when Jett Jones singled home Guy Brown — who led off with a walk and moved into scoring position on a passed ball — to stretch the lead to 6-1.
WKU finally broke back into the scoring column in the eighth, sending eight men to the plate. After loading the bases with nobody out, J.B. Paxson reached on an error to plate the first run of the inning. Matt Payton then drove home Matt Hightower with a RBI groundout to make it a 6-3 game. Scott Kaskie then singled in Wade Gaynor, and moved into scoring position the throw in to put the tying run in scoring position. However, ASU closer Tim Egart was able to get Dayleg to pop up in foul territory and Hamilton to fly out to end the threat and keep it a 6-4 game. Egart came back out and blanked WKU in the ninth to pick up his fourth save of the season.
The Hilltoppers outhit Arkansas State 13-10 in the game, with Hamilton and Hightower each collecting three hits. Dayleg also picked up a pair of hits for WKU. Eller led Arkansas State with three hits and a pair of RBI.
Brewer (4-2) picked up the win for ASU as he allowed just one run on nine hits and struck out eight in 6.1 innings of work. Carter fell to 4-3 on the year with the loss, as the Indians scored three runs on six hits, and tying a career high with seven strikeouts in 5.1 innings.
WKU will be back in action Tuesday when it hosts Louisville at 6 p.m. (CDT) at Nick Denes Field to wrap up a six-game homestand.