JONESBORO, Ark. – WKU overcame a two-run deficit with three-straight runs in the seventh and eighth innings but a three-run eighth inning by Arkansas State proved to be the series-deciding blow as the Red Wolves took the Sun Belt Conference series with a 5-3 win Sunday afternoon.
WKU jumped in front for the first time when Ryan Messex scored off another Red Wolves’ wild pitch in the eighth inning, giving the Hilltoppers a 3-2 advantage. Arkansas State would respond with a run of its own in the eighth after Stuart Levy smacked an RBI-double down the right field line to knot the score at 3-3.
The Red Wolves (19-14, 6-6) would jump back in front after a wild pitch from sophomore Brennan Pearson, which brought Levy home from third base. Arkansas State would tack on an insurance run with Dustin Jones RBI-single and hold on for the 5-3 win.
WKU (17-15, 8-4) struggled to get anything going early on as Arkansas State’s Bradley Wallace fanned nine of the first 13 Hilltopper batters he faced in the first four innings. Thomas Peter led off the game with a single through the left side, but Wallace would go on to retire 18-straight batters, 12 via the strikeout, through the sixth inning.
The Red Wolves got on the board and broke a scoreless tie with a two-out, two-run double from Collin Massanelli in the sixth inning to take a 2-0 lead.
WKU answered immediately, with junior Regan Flaherty ripping an RBI-double to right field to score Scott Wilcox from first base in the seventh inning. Flaherty would score off Wallace’s wild pitch later in the frame to even the score at 2-2.
Tim Bado was strong on the mound in his eighth start of the season, working through 5.2 innings and surrendering just four hits and two runs. In six of Bado’s eight starts this season, he has allowed three runs or less.
Freshman Josh Bartley would relieve Bado in the sixth and retire three-straight batters to set up left-handed pitcher Austin Clay. Clay gave up a trio of hits in the eighth inning, all of which crossed home plate. He was credited with the loss and fell to 3-2 on the season.
The loss snapped WKU’s streak of four-straight Sun Belt Conference series dating back to last season. Despite the series loss WKU still sits in first place in the Sun Belt Conference standings at 8-4.
WKU returns to the diamond Tuesday, April 9 as they take on No.9 Louisville at Bowling Green Ballpark. The game will be Cancer Awareness Night, as the WKU players and coaches will wear pink uniforms in support of cancer awareness. Fans will also be encouraged to wear pink to show their support. All cancer survivors will be invited to attend the game with the opportunity to be recognized during a pre-game ceremony. Survivors will receive a complementary ticket, while also receiving a free shirt and a white sash, complements of the American Cancer Society. All family and guests of cancer survivors can also purchase family and guest tickets for just $3.
Tickets for Tuesday’s game, along with all other 2013 home games, can be ordered online at WKUSports.com or by calling 1-800-5 BIG RED.