Bowling Green, Ky. — Two unearned runs by Austin Peay in the seventh inning proved to be the difference as the Governors picked up a 6-5 win over the Western Kentucky University baseball team Tuesday evening at Nick Denes Field.
The loss dropped the Hilltoppers to 16-22 on the year as they will travel to Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday (April 25) for a 2 p.m. (CDT) game with the Colonels. APSU improved to 23-17 with the victory.
“This was a good midweek game. I felt both teams pitched really well,” said Hilltopper head coach Chris Finwood. “I felt we played well, but right now we are just struggling getting the big hit when we need it.”
With WKU leading 5-4 entering, reliever Peter Wiggins (0-2) ran into some trouble in the seventh as Jake Lane led off with a single and J.B. Gilbert drew a walk to put the tying run in scoring position. Josh Kemph then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but the throw to first was wide as Lane scored to tie the game at 5-5. One out later, an RBI groundout by Jacob Crass plated Gilbert to put Austin Peay back in front 6-5.
That would be all the run support the Governor bullpen would need as Michael Dunn and David Vicini blanked the Toppers over the final four inning, with Dunn (2-0) picking up the win and Vicini earning his first save of the season.
The Govenors struck first when a two-out single form Josh Kemph in the second inning plated Matt Smith with the first run of the game. Rafael Hill followed with a bunt single that brought home J.B. Gilbert to give Austin Peay a 2-0 lead. APSU added two more an inning later when a hit off the bat of Tyler Farrar sent WKU left fielder crashing into the wall, allowing Josh Meeker to cross the plate, and Farrar to come all the way around to score on the inside-the-park home run.
After Farrar legged out the homer in the third, WKU pitching retired 11 straight batters. Matt Hightower sat down the last eight batters he faced, and Ben Hildreth pitched a perfect sixth inning before APSU scored the two unearned runs in the seventh.
The Hilltoppers responded in the third, loading the bases with just one out. Troy Frazier — who led off the inning with a double — then scored on a balk by Governor starter Jason Stoermar with the first WKU run of the game. An RBI groundout by Jack Ambrose then brought home Scott Kaskie to cut the deficit in half.
J.B. Paxson tied the game at 4-4 an inning later when he hit a two-run homer to right — his second of the season. A Casey Hamilton leadoff double in the fifth set the stage for WKU to take its first lead of the contest as he came around to score on an Ambrose single to give the Toppers a 5-4 advantage.
The Hilltoppers did threaten in the bottom of the ninth as Tyler Bumgarner singled with one out, and moved into scoring position on a Troy Frazier groundout. Kaskie was hit by a pitch to put the potential winning run on first, but Vicini got Hamilton to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the game.
Kaskie and Frazier led WKU with two hits each, while Ambrose and Paxson finished with a pair of RBI. No Governor batter finished with more than one hit, with Farrar driving in a pair.