TROY, Ala. — WKU and Troy battled to 10 innings in another classic game between the two conference rivals, and Troy came out on top, 5-4, thanks to a game-winning single by T.J. Rivera in the bottom of the 10th. The last nine meetings between the two schools have been decided by three runs or fewer, and three of the last six have needed extra-innings to determine a winner. The loss drops WKU's record to 31-15 overall and 12-8 in the conference, and Troy is now 22-20 on the season and 9-11 in league play.
Shane Cameron was outstanding in a career-high eight innings pitched, battling to a no-decision. He allowed eight hits and four runs in the outing and fanned six. He did not allow a walk. Taylor Haydel and Tanner Perkins finished the game for WKU, with Haydel taking the loss after allowing the eventual winning run to reach second base in the 10th.
In his last three outings at Riddle-Pace Field, twice against Troy and once against ULM in the 2009 Sun Belt Conference Tournament hosted by Troy, Cameron has allowed nine earned runs and 19 hits in 22.1 innings pitched, good for a 3.66 ERA. He has also struck out 11 in three starts at Riddle-Pace Field, all of which have gone for no-decisions.
Casey Dykes and Logan Robbins each were 2-for-4 at the plate, and Robbins hit his sixth home run of the season in the seventh inning to tie the game at 4. He has now hit three home runs in his last seven games. Jared Andreoli and Kes Carter had the other hits to account for the WKU offense on the day. Dykes also scored two of WKU's four runs.
Troy starter Tyler Ray had WKU's number through the first four-and-one-third innings, as he allowed only a Carter double with two outs in the first into the fifth inning. At one point, he retired 11-straight Hilltoppers. The Trojans touched Cameron for three runs in the second inning, using four singles and scoring a run on a wild pitch to lead 3-0 after two innings. Catcher Matt Rice helped Cameron from behind the plate to get out of the inning, as he mowed down a runner trying to move up to third on a ball in the dirt to end the second.
As good as Ray was for the first four-plus innings, Cameron matched him from the third through the sixth. The Hilltopper senior retired eight-straight Trojans at one point before allowing a solo home run, and then set down four of the next five to finish the sixth inning. The Hilltoppers helped out their starter by scoring two runs on two hits in the top of the fifth, with both runs crossing the plate on bases-loaded walks.
Down 4-2 in the top of the seventh, Dykes led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a ground ball to second. Robbins followed with a two-run home run to deep left field, clearing the bases and knotting the game at 4. Cameron avoided trouble after giving up a baserunner in both the seventh and eighth innings, and Troy reliever Chase Whitley continued his solid pitching by taking care of the Hilltoppers in the seventh and eighth.
With the game still tied at 4, WKU went down one-two-three in the ninth, and new WKU pitcher Haydel put two runners on with hit-by-pitches in the bottom of the ninth. But the freshman got a strikeout and a groundout to strand potential winning run on second and send the game to extra-innings.
The Hilltoppers again went down in order in the top of the 10th, one of six times they sent only three men to the plate in an inning in the game, and Haydel was lifted in the bottom of the 10th after giving up a lead-off double. Perkins entered to face Miles Hoyle, who laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the winning run to third base. Rivera followed with a single past a drawn-in Hilltopper defense, giving the Trojans the 5-4 win.
WKU has now lost three-straight extra-inning games, all by one run in 10 innings.
The loss is just WKU's fourth of the season when allowing five runs or fewer. The Hilltoppers are now 24-4 on the year when keeping the opponent to fewer than six runs.
Up Next: The Hilltoppers and the Trojans wrap up their three-game Sun Belt Conference weekend series Sunday afternoon at 1:00. Brian Edelen is slated to make his second-straight conference series game three start for WKU. After the series finale with the Trojans, WKU returns to Nick Denes Field Friday night at 6:00 to open a series against UALR.