BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) --- What was a 1-1 game after the third inning ended up a 17-run victory for WKU Baseball thanks to a big swing by junior catcher Matt Phipps and a stellar relief outing by sophomore lefty Dalton Shoemake. The Hilltoppers defeated visiting NKU by a score of 19-2 on Sunday afternoon, clinching a series sweep and a 3-0 record to start the 2019 season.
Shoemake relieved starter Reece Calvert in the top of the third, inheriting a bases-loaded jam and a 1-0 WKU lead. Although he walked in a run to begin his appearance, the lefty got the next Norse batter to pop into a double play to end the threat and keep it a tie game. The Glasgow native would face the minimum over his next four frames of work, with only one hit allowed - then inducing a 5-4-3 double play on the next pitch - and five strikeouts.
He threw 36-of-61 pitches for strikes, and the Hilltoppers had a 19-1 lead by the time he was replaced on the mound to begin the eighth inning.
Phipps was perfect in five plate appearances, going 3-for-3 with two walks. He scored two runs and drove in four, including three that came on a homerun in the fourth inning to cap a seven-run frame and push the lead to 9-1. A nine-run seventh inning accounted for the other bulk of WKU runs. The Hilltoppers sent 12 to the plate in the fourth and 13 to the dish in the seventh.
Designated hitter Richard Constantine was also perfect in the box, going 3-for-3 with three walks. He scored three runs and drove in two, including an RBI single into left field that gave WKU a 1-0 lead in the opening frame.
In all, three other Hilltoppers had multi-hit games, six others had multi-run games and three others had multi-RBI games. Second baseman Joey Schwartz was the other Hilltopper to draw a pair of walks.