Tops dominate on senior day and clinch series against Rice

WKU clinches series against Rice with a 10-2 victory
Published: May. 13, 2023 at 10:31 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - WKU Baseball defeated Rice, 10-2, to clinch the series victory on Saturday night at Nick Denes Field.

With the win, the Hilltoppers improve to 29-22 (14-12 in C-USA) while the Owls drop to 18-32 (7-19 in C-USA). WKU has now won five consecutive conference series for the first time since 2009 and 12 of its last 14 Conference USA games.

“If you are talking about the seventh [inning], Blomquist started it off with an 11 pitch at-bat and he does not even get a walk, he gets a base-hit out of it. Which, I think is even more demoralizing to a pitcher,” said head coach Marc Rardin. “It just gets it started. Then, there are some walks involved and a couple bleeders. Their pitchers were just not throwing strikes and that helped us as well. You have AJ [Fiechter] with two hits and four RBI, just doing his thing.”

It was a pitcher’s duel early on with just five total runs scored, combined, through six and a half innings. Rice took the early advantage with an RBI single in the first inning before WKU answered with a sacrifice fly from AJ Fiechter to knot the game up at 1-1. The Hilltoppers broke the tie in the bottom of the fifth that came off an RBI groundout courtesy of Ricardo Leonett and an RBI single from none other than Tristin Garcia. The Owls used a sacrifice fly of their own to make it a one score game in the top of the sixth and force senior LHP Devyn Terbrak out of the game following the conclusion of the inning.

The Tops then broke the game wide-open, scoring seven runs in the bottom of the seventh to put the game out of reach, starting with a bases loaded walk from Tristin Garcia. Following, Kirk Liebert and Andrew Delaney knocked back-to-back RBI singles before AJ Fiechter cleared the bases with a three-RBI double to extend the lead to 9-2. Brett Blomquist came back up to the plate for his second at-bat of the inning and poked an RBI triple down the left field line, adding another insurance run to make the score 10-2.

RHPs Mason Burns and CJ Weins owned the final 3.0 frames, combining for seven strikeouts without allowing a run or a hit with three walks. Terbrak earned his sixth winning decision of the season and fifteenth of his career, fanning seven Owl hitters and surrendering two runs on six hits and one walk.

Fiechter led the way at the plate, offensively, going 2-for-3 with a double, a career-high, four RBI, and two runs scored. Aidan Gilroy had the only three-hit night in a 3-for-4 outing with two runs scored.

The Hilltoppers will conclude their series with Rice beginning at 12 p.m. CT on Sunday, May 14 at Nick Denes Field.