Bowling Green, Ky. — For the second time this season, the Western Kentucky University baseball team will enter a Sun Belt Conference series finale with a chance to pick up a sweep after the Hilltoppers picked up a 14-7 win over UALR Saturday afternoon at Nick Denes Field.
WKU improved to 18-23 and 10-10 in the Sun Belt with the win, and will go for the three-game sweep over the Trojans (17-25, 5-14 SBC) on Sunday at 1 p.m. (CDT).
The Hilltoppers were able to break the game open in the fourth inning, sending 12 men to the plate and scoring eight runs. Scotty Colt got the scoring started as he hit a two-run home run — his first since Feb. 23 — off UALR starter Ashur Tolliver. After WKU loaded the bases with two outs, Troy Frazier delivered a three-RBI double to the gap in left-center, then came home to score on a Scott Kaskie single to stretch the lead to 11-1. After a Terrence Dayleg single, Casey Hamilton cleared the bases with a double that extended the Topper lead to 13-1.
WKU took advantage of four Trojan errors in the first two innings to plate five unearned runs early in the game. After Hamilton reached on an error with two outs in the bottom of the first, Colt walked and Wade Gaynor delivered an RBI single to plate the first run of the game. Jack Ambrose then reached on the second UALR miscue of the inning, allowing Colt to come around and score to make it 2-0.
A fielding error allowed Tyler Bumgarner to reach leading off the second. After stealing second, Bumgarner scored the third Hilltopper run of the game on a Kaskie single. Kaskie moved to second on a wild pitch and scored from second when Dayleg reached on the fourth UALR error of the game. Colt drove home Dayleg with a single later in the frame for the fifth unearned WKU run in the first two inning.
The only run the Trojans got off WKU starter Matt Ridings in the first four innings came in the second when Osvaldo Torres led off the second with a home run over the Hilltopper bullpen in left.
After the eight-run inning, the Trojans got a run back in the fifth when a throwing error allowed Brad Swiderski to come around to score the second UALR run of the game.
UALR finally broke through against Ridings in the sixth as it sent nine men to the plate and scored four runs. After loading the bases with one out, Matt King delivered an RBI single to cut the WKU lead to 13-3. One out later, a bases-loaded walk to Nick DeSanctis brought home Torres for the second run of the frame — ending the day for Ridings. Brett Lawler followed with a two-run single off reliever Ben Hildreth to cut the WKU lead to seven runs.
The Toppers were held scoreless until the eighth when an RBI groundout from Dayleg plated Frazier with the 14th run of the afternoon. UALR got three straight singles in the ninth, including an RBI hit from Torres, but Steve Hupper struck out the final two batters to close out the game.
Ridings (6-1) picked up his third win in as many weeks as he allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits, while striking out eight in 5.2 innings of work. Hupper picked up his third save of the year as he threw the final three innings, allowing one run and striking out three. Tolliver (4-4) suffered the loss for UALR.
Kaskie led the Hilltopper offense with three hits, while Dayleg, Colt and Frazier produced two hits each. Colt and Frazier also added three RBI. Torres finished with two hits and a pair of RBI for UALR.