NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Blustery and rainy conditions proved unfriendly to the WKU baseball team in its first road contest of 2013 as Belmont used an explosive second inning to beat the Hilltoppers, 13-4.
Freshman right-handed starter Jackson Sowell received his first-career starting nod, striking out the side in his first collegiate inning. Belmont figured the rookie out a bit in the second inning, plating eight runs in the frame. Sowell was only responsible for three runs, however, as a throwing error extended the inning and led to five more runs. Sowell finished his debut tossing 1.2 innings, with three strikeouts and six hits.
Three WKU right-handed pitchers made their season debuts, including career debuts for Sowell and freshman Alex Mercer.
Mercer, a freshman product out of Louisville, Ky., struck out five batters in 2.0 innings of work, surrendering just two hits in the process. Sophomore Brennan Pearson was also effective in 4.1 innings of action, fanning three while allowing only four hits. Pearson and Mercer combined to allowed four earned runs through 6.1 innings of work. For the season, the WKU bullpen has only surrendered nine earned runs in 38.1 innings.
The 11 strikeouts by WKU pitching marked the sixth time in the first seven games that the Hilltopper staff has struck out at least 10 in a game.
The Hilltoppers fought back in the eighth inning, plating three runs off two extra-base hits from Scott Wilcox and Ryan Messex. Wilcox led off the frame with WKU’s first triple of the season and was joined by Regan Flaherty and Anderson Miller as run-scorers in the eighth. Sophomore catcher Ryan Messex posted his second-straight two-RBI game with a double to score Flaherty and Miller.
Wilcox finished the night 2-for-4 at the plate to secure his fourth multi-hit game of the young season and the 27th of his career. Devin Kelly also picked up a pair of hits for the second time this season, going 2-for-5 for the eighth multi-hit performance of his career.
Regan Flaherty’s sixth-inning single extended his team-high hitting streak to seven games. He is the only Hilltopper to hit safely in every game this season.