BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - The WKU baseball team scored the final six runs of the game on Sunday at Nick Denes Field, capped off by a 10th inning, walk-off home run from senior Blake Crabtree to win it 7-6 for WKU over Troy, giving the Hilltoppers the series win to remain in first place in the Sun Belt Conference standings.
Trailing 6-1 in the bottom of the third, the Hilltoppers chipped away with single runs in the third, fifth and seventh innings, before an RBI-single from Devin Kelly in the ninth inning capped off a two-run inning to send the game to extras at 6-6. The free baseball wouldn’t last long, as Blake Crabtree led off the 10th by sending the second pitch of the at-bat over the left-field fence, giving WKU its fifth consecutive series win at Nick Denes Field.
Crabtree, who entered the week with one career home run, which came in 2010, blasted two home runs on the week, hitting his first of the season against eighth-ranked Louisville on Tuesday. The Austin, Ky., native finished his Sunday going 2-for-4 with a double and the solo home run, and hit .400 for the three-game series with three RBI.
The one-run game was the 15th of the season for WKU and the second in as many games, as the Hilltoppers improved to 9-6 in one-run games, including winning six straight in that category. The school record for one-run games in a season is 20 set back in 1991.
WKU has now won all three conference series at home in 2013, improving to 15-8 overall at home this season with seven home games remaining. WKU has reached 20 home wins in a season 13 different times in school history, averaging 38 wins during those 13 seasons. The Hilltoppers remain in a tie for first place in the Sun Belt Conference standings, marking the fifth consecutive weekend the Hilltoppers have ended in first place.
WKU slugger Ryan Huck blasted his 11th home run of the season in the bottom of the first inning to give WKU an early lead, homering for the seventh time at home in nine conference games. Huck’s home run gave him 28 for his career, which is just four away from breaking into the top 10 in WKU history for home runs in a career. Huck finished the day driving in a pair of runs, while going 1-for-3.
Troy would tie the game at one in the second, and then break things open in the third, scoring five runs off of three WKU errors in the inning. Tim Bado, getting the start for WKU, would get out of the inning allowing just one earned run, but the errors would up Troy’s lead to 6-1.
Bado and the Hilltopper relievers would shut the door after that, as Bado, Jake Thompson, Ian Tompkins and Justin Hageman would combine to toss seven consecutive scoreless innings, striking out six during that span, while only allowing only one hit.
Jake Thompson would work 1.2 innings of nearly perfect baseball, before sophomore Ian Tompkins came in for three innings of work, allowing just one hit to keep WKU within striking distance heading into the ninth inning. After the Hilltoppers would tie the game at six, Justin Hageman (1-0) would pitch the 10th, allowing just a walk, setting up Crabtree’s game-winner in the bottom-half.
Four different Hilltoppers had multiple hits on the afternoon, including Scott Wilcox who turned in his third three-hit performance of the season, going 3-for-5. The bottom of the WKU lineup did the majority of the damage on Sunday, as Blake Crabtree, Jordan Cessna and Trevor Lowe went a combined 6-for-12, driving in three of WKU’s seven runs, while hitting in the bottom three spots in the lineup. For the series, Crabtree, Cessna and Lowe went a combined 13-for-28 (.464) with six RBI.
The walk-off win for WKU was its second of the week, as Regan Flaherty’s ninth-inning single against eighth-ranked Louisville on Tuesday lifted the Hilltoppers to a win. The series victory over Troy gave WKU its second consecutive series win over the Trojans, marking the first time in program history WKU has taken back-to-back series over Troy.
WKU (20-16, 10-5) will look for its fourth three-game winning streak of the 2013 season when it travels to Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday to face Lipcomb, kicking off a four-game road swing for the Hilltoppers. WKU will travel to Mobile, Ala., next weekend to face South Alabama. The Jaguars are one of three teams locked atop the Sun Belt Conference standings, joining WKU and Florida Atlantic.
WKU will return home on Tuesday, April 23 as the Hilltoppers will play host to Kentucky at Bowling Green Ballpark. Tickets for the game, along with tickets for all of the remaining home games can be ordered online at WKUSports.com, or by calling 1-800-5 BIG RED.