BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - The WKU baseball team pounded out a season-high 16 hits and used seven strong innings from junior pitcher Justin Hageman to put together a complete team effort, taking the series over ULM on Sunday at Nick Denes Field, 9-1.
The series win gave the Hilltoppers six-straight series wins at home, including five consecutive conference series wins at home dating back to last season. WKU is now 18-9 at home in 2013, as the Hilltoppers are now two wins away from capturing their 14th 20-win season at home in school history and their first since 2009.
The first four hitters in the WKU lineup went a combined 10-for-18 on Sunday, with senior first baseman Ryan Huck leading the charge with his first career five-hit game, going 5-for-5 with three RBI.
WKU senior Steve Hodgins continued his stellar stretch, as the second baseman received his first start in the lead-off position on Sunday, and belted his first home run of the season on the first pitch he saw to even the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first inning. Hodgins would finish his day with a pair of hits, as he would finish the three-game series going 7-for-11 with one home run, two doubles and one RBI. The senior now has at least two hits in seven out of his last 11 games.
With the game tied at 1-1, WKU would open it up in the fifth, striking for four runs on five hits, including three doubles to give the Hilltoppers a 5-1 lead. After a Steve Hodgins double and a Scott Wilcox single to open the inning, RBI hits from Ryan Huck, Regan Flaherty and Devin Kelly drove in the four Hilltopper runs, with Flaherty and Kelly each putting together RBI doubles. Flaherty and Kelly would each have multi-hit games on the afternoon, with each hitting a pair of doubles.
WKU would put up another crooked number in the seventh inning, scoring four runs on three hits, capped off by a two-RBI double by Ryan Huck. Adam Lavelle would also add an RBI-single, while David Simmons would add a sacrifice fly to give the Hilltoppers a 9-1 lead through seven, which would ultimately be Sunday’s final.
In his first Sun Belt Conference start of the season, WKU junior Justin Hageman (2-1) worked seven strong innings, allowing just one earned run on six hits, retiring six-straight in his final two innings of work on just 10 pitches. The seven innings was Hageman’s longest outing of the season, giving the junior his second win of 2013. In Hageman’s last three starts, he has allowed just three earned runs in 17.1 innings of work.
Tim Bado would come in to get the final six outs in his second career relief appearance, allowing just one hit, while striking out four of the seven batters he faced.
The Hilltoppers would pound out 41 hits in the three-game series, which is the most hits in a series for WKU this season. For the series, WKU would hit .383 as a team, while sporting an even 2.00 team ERA. Flaherty, Hodgins, Huck and Wilcox combined for 32 of WKU’s 41 hits for the weekend, as all four hit over .460, with Huck, Hodgins and Wilcox all hitting over .600 for the three games.