Arkansas State Survives WKU’s Ninth-Inning Rally to Avoid Sweep

By: Jeremy Brown, WKU Athletic Communications/Media Relations
By: Jeremy Brown, WKU Athletic Communications/Media Relations

The loss was WKU’s first in its five-game home stand at Nick Denes Field this week, but the Hilltoppers held their fourth-place position in the Sun Belt Conference standings at 6-6.

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – WKU strung together a four-run, two-out rally in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday afternoon at Nick Denes Field but Arkansas State’s early runs proved to be just enough to fend off the Hilltoppers (18-15, 6-6) as the Red Wolves (17-15, 8-4) avoided the sweep with a 7-5 win.

Arkansas State scored six runs in the first four innings and held a 7-1 lead going into WKU’s half of the ninth before the Hilltopper bats came alive. Pinch hitting freshman Hunter Wood and sophomore third baseman both drew walks in the ninth before senior outfielder Regan Flaherty loaded the bases by advancing on a catchers’ interference. With the bases full and two outs on the board, senior second baseman Scott Wilcox smacked a three-run double into right center to bring WKU within 7-4.

Junior first baseman Ryan Church plated Wilcox in the next at bat with his third hit of the game and sophomore outfielder Anderson Miller drew a walk to put the tying run on base. Junior designated hitter Philip Diedrick represented the go-ahead run with the score at 7-5 and runners on first and second, but Diedrick’s dribbler up the middle was fielded cleanly by Arkansas State second baseman Eric Wilcoxson. Diedrick nearly reached safely to re-load the bases but Wilcoxson’s throw to Matt Burgess was in time to end the game.

The loss was WKU’s first in its five-game home stand at Nick Denes Field this week, but the Hilltoppers held their fourth-place position in the Sun Belt Conference standings at 6-6.

WKU starter Jake Thompson was knocked out of the game in the fourth inning as the Red Wolves jumped on him for six runs on six hits early in the game. Hilltopper relievers Brandon Allen and Sam Higgs kept WKU alive from there, combining to toss 5.2 innings of one-run baseball out of the bullpen.

The Hilltoppers had a difficult time figuring out Arkansas State right-hander Bradley Wallace, who struck out three and scattered five hits over seven innings. The only run WKU was able to get off Wallace came in the fifth when sophomore outfielder Trevor Lowe plated junior catcher Ryan Messex with a sac fly. Wallace picked up his third win of the year while Thompson suffered his third loss of the year.

Burgess led the Red Wolves’ offense with four RBI while Wilcox’s three RBI for WKU matched a career high. Church also equaled a career high with three hits. Miller doubled and walked to cap his stellar week of play as he finished the week with 12 hits, five RBI, five runs, three doubles, a home run and a stolen base.

Messex shined defensively for WKU, catching three Red Wolves stealing to up his season total to 16. The Johnny Bench Award Watch List member caught five Arkansas State runners stealing in the series and picked off two others, including a game-ending pickoff in Friday’s 8-6 win.


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