BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - The WKU baseball team would be in complete control through six innings, but Florida Atlantic would plate 11 runs through the final three innings to pick up the series sweep over the Hilltoppers on Senior Day at Nick Denes Field Sunday afternoon.
The Hilltoppers led 4-1 through six innings, thanks in part to Justin Hageman’s pitching effort, as the junior had his best start of the 2013 season, going 6.2 innings, allowing just one run on a career low one hit, striking out a season high seven batters. The Hilltoppers would also benefit early from the play of their seniors, as the five position players combined for eight hits on the day, as the seniors also drove in all six of WKU’s runs in their final game at Nick Denes Field.
Senior first baseman Ryan Huck would blast his 13th home run of the season in his final at-bat at Nick Denes Field, belting a two-run shot to left-center field in the ninth inning. The home run was the 30th of Huck’s career, putting him just two home runs away from breaking into the top 10 in WKU history. Huck would finish his day 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI.
Fellow seniors Adam Lavelle, Devin Kelly and Blake Crabtree all had multi-hit games, as Lavelle drove in three of WKU’s six runs, with all three coming on a bases-clearing double in the third. Devin Kelly would also add a pair of hits, giving the senior six hits in the last two games after his four-hit performance on Saturday.
After Florida Atlantic took an early 1-0 lead on Saturday, the Hilltopper seniors busted open the bats in the third, as Lavelle cleared the bases with a three-run double. Fellow senior Blake Crabtree would follow Lavelle’s lead with an RBI-single to give WKU an early 4-1 lead through three innings. In the inning, four WKU seniors reached base, with three of them scoring.
Florida Atlantic would climb back into the game in the seventh after a pair of errors, a walk and a single to cut into WKU’s lead making it 4-3 through seven.
The Owls would come right back in the eighth and have their biggest inning of the three-game series to open it up, plating five runs off three hits, sending nine batters to the plate in the inning, and would then tack on four more runs in the ninth.
WKU would load the bases in the eighth down by four as the tying run would come to the plate, but the Hilltoppers would be unable to bring across a run as the Owls held on for the 12-6 win and the series sweep. The sweep was the first against WKU at home since the 2006 season.
The Hilltoppers (24-27, 13-14) will close out the 2013 regular season with four road contests, starting with a Tuesday night contest at Evansville. WKU will then travel to Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Thursday to kick off a three-game conference series with Middle Tennessee to wrap up conference play.