BOWLING GREEN, Ky BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The WKU pitching staff struggled to find the strike zone and wound up walking 12 Texas State batters Saturday afternoon at Nick Denes Field as the Bobcats capitalized on a dozen Hilltopper freebies to knot the three-game series with a 13-4 victory.
Five of WKU’s walks came around to score for Texas State while two more runs were directly walked in by Hilltopper pitchers. The loss ended a nine-game home winning streak and dropped WKU to 13-10 and 3-2 in Sun Belt Conference play while Texas State improved to 14-8 and 4-1 in league play.
Senior southpaw Austin Clay (3-1) suffered his first loss of the season after getting roughed up for seven runs on eight hits in five innings of work. Five of those runs came in the first two innings before he settled down to tie a career high with six strikeouts. He kept the Hilltoppers within striking distance as they trailed 5-2 during his sixth-inning exit, but the WKU bullpen couldn’t find its rhythm as it combined to walk eight batters and allow six runs.
Texas State took control of things early with five runs in the first two innings, three of which were driven in by shortstop Garrett Mattlage. Mattlage recorded an RBI groundout in the first and doubled to left center to score two more in the second. He finished the game 3-of-5 with seven RBI.
Trailing 5-0, WKU began to chip away at the Bobcat lead with runs in the second and fourth innings. Freshman third baseman Clint Hardy recorded his first-career RBI with a groundout to score senior outfield Regan Flaherty in the second and fellow rookie Hunter Wood drove in junior first baseman Church in the fourth with an RBI groundout as well.
The Bobcats wouldn’t let WKU any closer than 5-2, however, as they opened the game up with three runs off of three hits in the sixth. The Hilltoppers responded with RBI hits from Flaherty and Wood in the sixth to make the count 8-4, but WKU’s scoring finished there.
Mattlage knocked in two more for Texas State in the seventh and the Bobcats plated three runs with no hits in the ninth to finish off the game’s scoring. Texas State starter Austen Williams was efficient through six innings, scattering five hits and four runs while striking out five for his third win of 2014.