Tops belt out 17 hits in win at Belmont

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Behind 17 hits – including five home runs – and timely pitching, Western Kentucky defeated Belmont 5-7 on Tuesday.

Tyler Robertson blasted two home runs and had five RBIs while Ray Zuberer III had four hits out of the lead-off spot, both career-high marks.

The Hilltoppers jumped to a 9-0 lead by the top of the third. After Kevin Lambert sliced a two-run home run in the second, Robertson brought home four on a grand slam in the third and Jacob Rhinesmith launched a three-run shot later in the inning.

Starter Evan Acosta retired 6 of 7 Bruins to begin the game, but the hitter-friendly gusts affected him as well, as the hosts scored four off the lefty in the bottom of the third. Another Belmont run in the fourth squeezed it to a 9-5 WKU advantage, but it would get no closer.

With Acosta not completing five innings, the win was up in the air for the Hilltopper pitching staff. Freshman Maddex Richardson earned the victory with a career-high four strikeouts in 2 1/3 scoreless innings, keeping the Bruins at bay from the fourth-to-sixth frames.

In the fifth, Robertson lifted a solo home run to left field to lead off, and Zuberer followed later in the frame with a two-run home run to right.

Then in the seventh, WKU got its first three runs not via the long ball when Steven Kraft doubled in Zuberer and Rhinesmith. Colie Currie followed with an RBI single to right field to bring home Kraft and bring the score to 15-5.

Belmont pushed across two runs in the bottom of the eighth, but reliever Conner Boyd came in to diffuse a scoring chance and then fired a perfect ninth to clinch the 15-7 victory. Boyd retired all six batters he faced to end the Hilltoppers’ five-game losing streak.

Colin Butkiewicz went 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles and runs scored, while Luke Brown went 1-for-3 with a stolen base and walked twice.

Western Kentucky (6-7) next hosts Bowling Green for a three-game series starting Friday.