ATLANTA, Ga. – WKU Baseball begins the Sun Belt Conference portion of its season Friday evening as the Hilltoppers (10-7) travel to Georgia State (9-8) to take on their new league foe at the GSU Baseball Complex. First pitch time is set for 5 p.m. (CT).
WKU has won at least two of three games in its conference opening series in four of the past five seasons and has won four-straight weekend series dating back to the end of the 2013 season. The Hilltoppers have swept three of their last four weekend series, including their last two against UNC Asheville and Illinois. WKU leads the all-time series with Georgia State 3-1, with all four previous meetings coming in the state of Georgia. Friday’s matchup will be the first between the Panthers and Hilltoppers since the 1993 season.
WKU led or held a share of the Sun Belt Conference lead for the first six weeks of league play in 2013 before slipping at the finish line. The Hilltoppers were picked to finish sixth in the 2014 preseason coaches’ poll while the Panthers were picked seventh. WKU’s 10 wins entering conference play ranks second among league members.
The Hilltoppers’ starting pitching rotation of Justin Hageman, Austin Clay and Jake Thompson is scheduled to toss in its Friday, Saturday and Sunday slots. Thompson was named the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week earlier this week after throwing seven shutout innings against Illinois last Sunday. Thompson and Hageman rank second and third in conference ERA, sporting clips of 0.81 and 0.95, respectively.
The senior trio has combined for a 4-0 record with 43 strikeouts and 10 earned runs allowed while holding batters to a .218 batting average.
The Hilltoppers bring hot bats into Georgia State’s hitters’ park as they have rapped out 51 hits in their last five games, including 11 in back-to-back games at Georgia earlier in the week. WKU will face Panther lefties Kenny Anderson and Andrew Fessler in the first two games of the series before getting a look at right-handed Matt Rose in Sunday’s finale.