EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Timely hitting and clutch late-inning pitching lifted the WKU baseball team to a big come-from-behind win on the road, as the Hilltoppers scored the final six runs of the game on Tuesday at Evansville after trailing 6-1 through first five innings. Hilltopper junior Scott Wilcox capped off the furious WKU rally with an RBI-triple in the top of the eighth to give the Hilltoppers the lead and the eventual win in their final non-conference game of the season, earning the season sweep over the Purple Aces.
Once WKU had rallied to tie the game and eventually take the lead, it was Hilltopper reliever Ian Tompkins (4-4) who came in to close the door, working 2.2 innings, striking out eight, including striking out seven in a row from the sixth inning through the eighth, striking out the side in both the seventh and the eighth. Tompkins has now struck out 57 batters this season in just 34 innings. Tompkins would give way to Taylor Haydel with one out in the ninth, as Haydel would come on to escape a runners at the corners jam, getting a called third strike for his sixth save of the 2013 season. The appearance was Haydel’s 94th of his career, putting him just three away from second all-time in WKU history.
With the Purple Aces leading 2-1, Evansville would put together a four-run fifth inning off a two-run double by Jonathan Ramon with the bases loaded, and a two-RBI single from John Day to give Evansville a 6-1 lead through five.
The Hilltoppers would quickly respond, however, as the first four batters of the sixth inning would reach with singles, with Regan Flaherty and Devin Kelly each putting together RBI singles to make it 6-3. The Hilltoppers would then load the bases, get an RBI from Trevor Lowe who was hit by a pitch, then senior Steve Hodgins would have the big blow, driving in two runs with a two-RBI single to tie the game at six. The two-RBI game was the third of the season for Hodgins.
With the game still tied at six, Hodgins would once again reach base, this time with a two-out walk in the top of the eighth. The walk would prove pivotal, as Wilcox would then drill the RBI-triple to right field, giving WKU its first lead of the game and the eventual win at 7-6.
Devin Kelly and Regan Flaherty would lead the Hilltoppers, as Kelly reached base four times with one hit, a pair of walks and was hit by a pitch. The two walks by Kelly gave the senior 38 walks this season, which is just seven away from moving him into the top 10 in WKU history for a single season. Flaherty went 3-for-5, good for his third three-hit game of the season.
Senior first baseman Ryan Huck would have a pair of hits on Tuesday, going 2-for-4, marking the fifth-straight game Huck has had two or more hits. During the five-game stretch, Huck has gone 13-for-21, good for a .619 average.
Huck, Kelly and Flaherty all were part of the big five in the Hilltopper lineup, as the first five hitters in the WKU lineup accounted for nine of the team’s 10 hits, as Steve Hodgins, Scott Wilcox, Ryan Huck, Regan Flaherty and Devin Kelly combined to go 9-for-19, driving in five. Over the last seven games, the five Hilltoppers at the top of the WKU lineup have combined for 62 hits, driving in 24 runs.
WKU used seven different pitchers on the night, with Ian Tompkins picking up the his fourth win of the season. Sophomore Austin Clay got the start, working 2.1 innings, allowing just two hits and one unearned run.