WKU Baseball reaches 30 wins for the first time in over a decade
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - WKU Baseball defeated Rice, 5-2, to sweep the series on Friday afternoon at Nick Denes Field.
With the win, the Hilltoppers improve to 30-22 (15-12 in C-USA) while the Owls drop to 18-34 (7-20 in C-USA). WKU reaches 30 wins in a season for the first time since 2011 and has won 13 of its last 15 Conference USA games after starting 2-10 in league play.
“Sometimes in life, not everything goes your way, you have not created a lot for yourself on a certain day, but yet it ends up not really being that bad of a day,” said head coach Marc Rardin. “You know you just got away with it. That is kind of what I felt like today was. We did not get bunts down. We did pitch great, but we left guys on base. We were not very good on defense. What we still did though is, we found a way to compete. That is like the next part.”
The first four and a half innings saw just three runs scored, combined, with the Tops holding a slim, lead going into the home half of the fifth. For the second consecutive game, Rice had scratched the first run of the contest. After a Hilltopper throwing error allowed an Owl baserunner to reach third, an RBI single plated the run, to give Rice the early 1-0 advantage, but WKU responded rather quickly. Ty Batusich was able to tie the game at 1-1 after an RBI groundout, which was immediately followed by a sacrifice fly from AJ Fiechter, giving the Tops the 2-1 lead.
WKU scored three more times, marking once in each of the bottom of the fifth, sixth, and seventh frames while the Owls tacked on just one singular run in the top of the seventh. Aidan Gilroy provided some cushion with an RBI single to right field in the fifth, extending the lead to 3-1 before a towering, solo homer from Lukas Farris put the Tops fourth run on the board in the sixth inning. Farris is the first Hilltopper to reach double-digit bombs on the season, now sitting at 10 in his freshman campaign.
A Rice RBI groundout brought the score closer at 4-2 in the top of the seventh, but it did not last very long as an Owl pitcher balked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, scoring Gilroy from third and putting the Hilltopper lead right back to three at 5-2, eventually resulting in the final score.
Freshman RHP Dawson Hall earned his seventh winning decision on the rubber, fanning five Owls in 6.0 innings of work, only allowing one run (zero earned) on five hits and one walk. Redshirt sophomore Cole Heath claimed his second save on the year, getting the final six outs without allowing a hit.
Gilroy finished his day at the plate with a 2-for-3 outing, two walks, one RBI, and one run scored while Andrew Delaney went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
The Hilltoppers will hit the road for their final series of the regular season at Dallas Baptist beginning at 6:30 p.m. CT on Thursday, May 18 in Dallas, Texas.
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