BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – WKU Baseball rallied from a 5-3 deficit in the eighth inning against UNC Asheville Friday evening at Nick Denes Field, plating five runs in the frame to secure an 8-5 win against the Bulldogs (1-1).
WKU (3-2) juniors Ryan Messex and Cody Wofford were responsible for tying the game up at 5-5 in the eighth inning, as Messex drove in pinch runner Leiff Clarkson from second base with an RBI-single and Wofford followed with an RBI sacrifice fly to score freshman Paul Murray from third. With the score knotted and two outs in the inning, senior Scott Wilcox delivered the go-ahead run with a single through the left side to score fellow senior David Simmons from second.
Senior Regan Flaherty tacked on two insurance runs in the next at bat, blooping a double to right field to clear the bases and make the count 8-5 in WKU’s favor. Junior left-handed pitcher Ian Tompkins preserved the win with a pair of strikeouts in the ninth inning for his second save of the year.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Sam Higgs picked up his first career win after relieving starter Justin Hageman with four innings of shutdown work. Higgs struck out four batters and scattered two hits, retiring nine-straight batters at one point. Hageman struck out three, allowed six hits and one earned run in his four-inning start.
Wilcox, Ryan Church and Trevor Lowe combined to go 6-of-12 with three RBI at the plate, with each tallying a pair of hits and an RBI. Junior designated hitter Philip Diedrick also recorded two hits for the first time in his career.
WKU racked up timely hits throughout the game, going 6-of-14 in two out hitting (.429) and 8-of-18 with runners on base (.444).
UNC Asheville drew first blood with an RBI groundout from Robert McIntosh in the first inning, but WKU would respond with two runs of its own in the bottom of the frame. Church singled up the middle to score Wofford and sophomore third baseman followed through with another two-out RBI, ripping a double to left field to plate Church.
The Bulldogs put up four runs on a two-out rally in the second inning and held their 5-2 lead until the fourth inning, where Lowe began chipping away at the UNC Asheville advantage with an RBI double to left field. Higgs kept the Hilltoppers in it with quick, effective work on the mound before the bats got rolling in the eighth.
WKU’s win marked its 43rd consecutive victory when holding a lead through eight innings of work.
The Hilltoppers aim to clinch the series against UNC Asheville on Saturday at 2 p.m. Saturday’s contest will be Faculty-Staff Appreciation Day as all WKU faculty and staff members can receive two free tickets by signing in at the entrance gate. Sunday’s game will be another Sunday Fun Day with all children ages 12 or under receiving free admission and an opportunity to run the bases following the game.
Season tickets for the 2014 WKU Baseball season are on sale now and can be purchased online at WKUSports.com or by calling 1-800-5-BIGRED. The season ticket package includes 28 general admission tickets to any home games of choice for just $35. For more information on WKU Baseball, follow @WKUBaseball on Twitter or visit WKUSports.com.