MONROE, La. – WKU led ULM 4-0 through its half of the sixth inning Sunday at Warhawk Field but the Warhawks battled back with five unanswered runs off three homers, which was capped by a walk-off solo home run by Chet Simoneaux to down WKU in the series finale, 5-4.
The Hilltoppers (27-22, 13-11 SBC) were cruising along with a 4-0 lead after the offense exploded for three runs in the sixth, but the Warhawks (19-30, 9-15 SBC) strung together a four-run, two-out rally in the sixth inning to even the game at 4-4.
Senior starting pitcher Jake Thompson struck out six and allowed five hits in 5.2 innings, but three of the five hits he surrendered came in ULM’s big sixth inning. He forced the first two batters of the sixth into groundouts before giving up a solo home run to Dalton Herrington. Keelin Rasch kept the inning alive with a single up the middle and advanced to second on a Hilltopper error. ULM’s Justin Stawychny appeared to fly out in the next at bat, but his high fly ball kept carrying and eventually fell over the fence and out of reach of WKU outfielders Anderson Miller and David Simmons to tie the game at 4-4.
WKU put runners in scoring position during both the seventh and eighth innings but couldn’t push across the go-ahead run. The Hilltoppers wound up stranding seven on base, including three in the second inning.
Relievers Sam Higgs and Tate Glasscock were effective out of the bullpen for WKU, throwing 2.2 innings of two-hit baseball until Simoneaux’s walk-off shot. Glasscock struck out one and had only allowed one hit through two innings before Simoneaux stepped to the plate. Simoneaux ripped Glasscock’s 3-1 offering just inside the left field foul pole to prevent WKU’s sweep and win it for the Warhawks.
Thompson struck out five of the first 10 batters he faced, allowing just one hit through his first three innings of work. He retired 12 of the first 13 Warhawks he faced before running into his sixth-inning troubles. Three of the four runs he surrendered were unearned as the Hilltopper error in the sixth would have ended the frame before Stawychny’s three-run homer.
Tyler Bray picked up his seventh win for the Warhawks after holding WKU to one hit over the final two innings. The Hilltoppers again got into the Warhawk bullpen early, but starter Alex Hermeling was effective through five innings, limiting the hot WKU offense to three hits and one run.
Miller put WKU on the board first with a solo homer to lead off the fourth inning, giving WKU a 1-0 advantage. Miller’s home run was his third of the season as he finished the game 2-of-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.
WKU scored three runs in the sixth inning, which was kick-started by Miller singling to right field and advancing to second on a fielding error. Junior designated hitter Philip Diedrick pushed Miller to third with a groundout and junior shortstop Cody Wofford drove in Miller with a single to center. Wofford came around to score on a passed ball to give WKU a 3-0 lead. Freshmen third baseman Leiff Clarkson finished off WKU’s scoring with by plating senior outfielder David Simmons with a two-out single into right field.
Wofford finished his day 3-of-4 with an RBI and a run scored while Simmons racked up two more hits to give him six on the series. Simmons and Wofford combined for 12 of WKU’s 33 hits in the series. The Hilltoppers finished the series with 33 hits, marking the sixth time in eight conference series they have finished with more than 30 hits.
Despite the loss the Hilltoppers won their third-straight series and still remain in fourth in the conference standings, but their 13-11 mark is tied with Texas Arlington. WKU heads to Arlington next weekend for a pivotal showdown. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. (CT) at Clay Gould Ballpark.
For more information on WKU Baseball, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUBaseball or visit WKUSports.com.