KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The WKU baseball team clawed back from deficits on two different occasions to force extra innings, and eventually took the lead in the 10th inning, but a pair of runs in the bottom-half of the 10th led Tennessee to a 5-4 walk-off win over WKU on Tuesday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville.
WKU came from behind to tie the game at two in the fifth inning off a solo home run from Jordan Cessna and an RBI-single from Scott Wilcox, giving the Hilltoppers their first runs of the series.. Tennessee would respond with a run of its own in the bottom-half to re-take the lead at 3-2. That score would hold until the eighth, as three-straight singles by Ryan Messex, Adam Lavelle and an RBI-single from Jordan Cessna tied the game at three.
The tie would remain until the 10th inning, as WKU would get a lead-off double from Regan Flaherty, and an RBI-single from Ryan Messex to give WKU its first lead of the game at 4-3. Tennessee would once again respond, however, as the Volunteers took advantage of two WKU errors to plate a pair of runs in the 10th, including the eventual game-winner on a hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded and two outs.
The extra-inning affair was the nothing new for the WKU-Tennessee all-time series, as three of the last four meetings between the two programs have gone to extra-innings, including a 13-inning game in Knoxville in 2012. WKU falls to 0-5 all-time in Knoxville, with two of the last three losses on the road to Tennessee coming in extra-innings. WKU, however, is 3-0 all-time against Tennessee in Bowling Green.
The one-run game was the seventh of the season for WKU, as more than 43 percent of the team’s games in 2013 have been decided by one run. The Hilltoppers played a total 17 one-run games in 2012.
The Hilltoppers out-hit Tennessee for the second time in as many days, pounding out 13 hits on the afternoon. WKU has now out-hit the opposition in five consecutive games, with double-digit hits in three of those five games.
WKU got on the board for the first time in the two-game series with a solo home run to left field by Jordan Cessna in the fifth. The home run was the second of Cessna’s career, with both coming against Tennessee, as he homered in 2012 against the Volunteers in Knoxville. Cessna finished the day with his first career three-hit game, going 3-for-5 with two RBI in a start in right field.
Cessna was one of three Hilltoppers to have a three-hit game on Tuesday, as Regan Flaherty and Ryan Messex also had three-hit games. David Simmons, getting the start in centerfield for WKU, went 2-for-4, giving the HIlltoppers four players with multi-hit games on Tuesday.
Freshman Anderson Miller, who had started the first 15 games of the season in the outfield for WKU, made his Hilltopper debut on the mound, earning the start. The left-hander, working on a strict pitch count, tossed two innings, allowing just one run on one hit. In all, WKU would use five pitchers on Tuesday, with sophomore Ian Tompkins working 3.1 innings out of the bullpen, striking out a team-high four batters.