MOBILE, Ala. - The Western Kentucky University baseball team rallied for five runs in the top of the seventh to come-from-behind for a 7-6 victory over South Alabama in the series opener Friday night at Stanky Field.
WKU (21-28, 11-14 Sun Belt Conference) earned a come-from-behind victory for the 11th time this season after South Alabama (18-31, 12-13) led 3-0 after the first inning and 5-2 after the sixth.
Freshman left-hander Ian Tompkins (4-2) worked 1-2/3 scoreless innings, giving up a hit with one walk and two strikeouts. Junior right-hander Taylor Haydel earned his second save of the season after giving up one run on one hit with two walks and a strikeout in the final two innings.
USA reliever Jarrett Bailey (1-3) allowed five runs - three earned - on three hits with a walk and two strikeouts in two innings.
Hilltoppers senior third baseman Casey Dykes went 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs to lead the offense. Center fielder Jared Andreoli, catcher Devin Kelly and designated hitter Blake Crabtree each added runs-scoring singles. First baseman Ryan Huck tallied a sacrifice fly.
Shortstop Scott Wilcox's third-inning single extended his career-long hitting streak to nine games.
The Jaguars took an early 3-0 lead with three runs in the bottom of the first inning. An RBI groundout by designated hitter Whitt Dorsey got the scoring started and after center fielder Jordan Patterson scored on a catchers' interference call, shortstop Graham Odom capped the scoring with a bases-loaded walk.
WKU gets a run back in the top of the second on an RBI single by Crabtree to make the score 3-1.
South Alabama added a run in the bottom of the second on an RBI single by Dorsey.
A sacrifice fly off the bat of Huck cut the Jaguars' lead to 4-2 in the top of the third inning.
The Jaguars extended its advantage to 5-2 in the bottom of the sixth as Odom scored from third on a balk by Tompkins,
The Hilltoppers sent nine batters to the plate in a five-run top of the seventh inning. An RBI single by Andreoli drove in the first run followed by a two-run double by Dykes to tie the score. A throwing error allowed Dykes to score the go-ahead run and Kelly capped the scoring with a run-scoring single.
South Alabama got a run in the bottom of the ninth as first baseman Brad Hook drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 7-6.
Sophomore left-hander Austin Clay gave up five runs - four earned - on seven hits in 5-1/3 innings with a strikeout and two walks in his ninth start of the season.
Jaguars starter Phillip Byrd limited the Hilltoppers to two runs on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts in five innings.
The two teams return to action in the second game of the series at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. WKU will send junior left-hander Tim Bado (4-5, 4.21 ERA) against Jaguars junior right-hander Jarron Cito (6-4, 5.71).