BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - The WKU baseball team took both games of a Saturday doubleheader against Sun Belt Conference rival Middle Tennessee at Nick Denes Field to earn the three-game sweep against the Blue Raiders. The sweep over Middle Tennessee was WKU’s second in the last three years, and gave WKU five-straight home series victories against Middle Tennessee.
WKU would take game one on Saturday 12-2, marking the largest margin of defeat against the Blue Raiders since a 15-5 win over Middle Tennessee in 2010. The Hilltoppers would turn right around take game two on Saturday 9-7, as senior first baseman Ryan Huck belted two home runs for the second time in the series. Huck would finish the series going 6-for-8, with four home runs and seven RBI. Huck’s four home runs in the three-game series marked the first time since 2008 that a Hilltopper player has hit four home runs in a three-game series. Chad Cregar last accomplished that feat with four home runs in three games against New Orleans.
For the series, WKU would score 27 runs against the Blue Raiders, marking the most runs scored in a three-game series against Middle Tennessee since 2004 when WKU also scored 27. The Hilltoppers hit .438 (14-for-32) with runners in scoring position for the series, while hitting .375 (12-for-32) with two outs in an inning. The Hilltoppers also had 15 two-out RBI in the series, after having just 19 through the first 16 games of the season.
Recaps from both games on Saturday can be found below. The Hilltoppers will travel to Lexington, Ky., on Tuesday to face nationally-ranked Kentucky, before returning home on Wednesday to face Lipscomb at Nick Denes Field. Tickets for Wednesday’s game, along with tickets for all remaining home games can be ordered online at WKUSports.com. Fans can also visit the WKU Ticket Office in E.A. Diddle Arena, or call 1-800-5 BIG RED.
A pitcher’s duel through the first four innings turned into a convincing WKU win in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader, as the Hilltoppers scored 10 runs in the final four innings, including eight combined runs in the fifth and sixth innings to win the series over rival Middle Tennessee, 12-2.
WKU would have its biggest inning in the fifth in a 1-0 game, scoring five runs, all with two outs. After a pair of groundouts to open the inning, four singles and a pair of walks led WKU to the big five-run inning, sending nine batters to the plate. Griffith Roark and Trevor Lowe would supply the big blows for the Hilltoppers in the inning, as Roark would get a two-out, two-RBI double making it 4-0, while Lowe would drive in a pair with a two-RBI double to extend the lead to 6-0. Lowe would drive in a career-high three on the day, joining Ryan Messex as the pair of Hilltoppers with three-RBI games.
WKU would add more insurance runs in the sixth, scoring three runs off four hits, capped off by a two-run home run by designated hitter Devin Kelly. The homer was the third of the season for Kelly, extending WKU’s lead to 9-0 after three innings. Kelly was one of three Hilltoppers to have a multi-RBI game in the opener, going 1-for-3, while scoring two runs.
The 9-0 lead would hold until the eighth, as WKU would tack on three more insurance runs, highlighted by a two-RBI triple from catcher Ryan Messex to make it 12-0 WKU. The triple was the first of Messex’s career, capping off his second three-hit game of the week. Messex would go 3-for-5 with three RBI in the game.
Middle Tennessee would prevent the shutout in the ninth, hitting a two-run home run.
WKU starting pitcher Andrew Edwards (1-1) would earn his first career win as a Hilltopper pitcher, tossing five innings of scoreless baseball, giving up just four hits, while striking out six. Edwards would give way to Austin Clay, who would toss the final four innings to earn his first career save, allowing just three hits.
In all, eight WKU players would pick up hits in game one, giving the Hilltoppers 11 hits on the afternoon.
For the second time in the series WKU first baseman Ryan Huck belted two home runs in a game, this time belting a pair of solo shots to lift the Hilltoppers to a 9-7 win and a series sweep of Middle Tennessee in game two of the doubleheader on Saturday. Huck would finish the day going 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI, capping off a 6-for-8 series against the Blue Raiders.
For the second time in the series, and for the 15th time in 2013, the Hilltoppers fell behind as Middle Tennessee would scratch across three runs in the first three innings to jump out to a 3-0 lead. WKU would fight back, however, as the Hilltoppers would get within one run in the third inning off a Blake Crabtree single and a David Simmons double to open the inning.
Trailing 3-2 in the fourth, Ryan Huck would blast the first of his two home runs on the day, tying the game at 3-3 with a solo shot. The home run would spark WKU in the fourth, as the Hilltoppers would send nine batters to the plate, scoring five runs in the inning, capped off by a two-RBI single from Thomas Peter and an RBI-double by Scott Wilcox to give WKU a 7-3 lead after four. The double for Wilcox would extend his hitting streak to 10 games.
Ryan Huck would supply another insurance run in the very next inning, cranking his sixth home run of the season, upping WKU’s lead to 8-3.
Middle Tennessee would make things interesting late, scoring four runs in the sixth to pull within one, but an insurance run in the eighth inning for WKU gave the Hilltoppers the 9-7 lead, which would hold after Ian Tompkins finished off the ninth inning, earning his third save on the young season.
WKU (10-9) would use multi-hit games from four different players in the series finale, while three players had multi-RBI games. Scott Wilcox would finish the game going 2-for-5 with two RBI, while speedy outfielders David Simmons and Anderson Miller each contributed two-hit games in the finale.
Tim Bado (2-1) would get the win for WKU in the finale, working 5.1 innings. Sophomore Ian Tompkins would be the third different Hilltopper to earn a save in the series, as Tompkins worked the final three innings in game three, not allowing a run, while giving up just one hit. Tompkins has yet to allow an earned run in 2013.