TROY, Ala. — A four-run Troy first inning proved to be too much for WKU to overcome Sunday afternoon in Troy, Ala., and the Hilltoppers lost the rubber match of a three-game Sun Belt Conference weekend series, 6-3. WKU was able to claw back within a run after WKU starting pitcher Brian Edelen and a pair of relievers held the Trojans in check after that four-run first inning, but the big hit eluded the Hilltoppers for the remainder of the game and Troy added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth inning. WKU is now 31-16 overall on the season and 12-9 in league play. Troy improves to 23-20 overall and 10-11 in the conference.
Each of the last 10 meetings between WKU and Troy have been decided by three runs or fewer.
WKU's three hits on the day were its fewest in a game this season.
After a potential Hilltopper scoring opportunity in the top of the first was erased at the plate trying to score from third, the Trojans jumped all over Edelen in the bottom of the first to take a 4-0 lead after one inning. Adam Bryant led off with a single to left field and came around to score the first Trojan run of the game three batters later. The next three Trojans reached base against Edelen on a single, double and walk, and Troy had a four-run lead after sending eight men to the plate in its first at-bat.
Edelen came out and retired the Trojans in order in the bottom of the second, and WKU cut into Troy's lead with a run in the top of the third. Logan Robbins drew a one-out walk, stole second and moved station-to-station the rest of the way to score on a Blake Crabtree single and Matt Payton groundout.
The Hilltopper right-hander continued to regroup from allowing the four-run first and faced the minimum in the Troy third inning. He allowed a one-out single to right field, but Todd McRae grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and keep the score 4-1 in favor of Troy after three innings.
WKU kept chipping away at the Trojan lead in the middle innings, scoring two runs in the top of the fifth to bring the score to 4-3. Robbins and Crabtree drew back-to-back two-out walks to get things started, and Payton was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Jared Andreoli stepped up and worked a full count before drawing a walk to force in WKU's second run of the game. With the bases still loaded Kes Carter ripped a single to right field that scored Crabtree, but Payton was thrown out at the plate on the play to end the inning with Troy still ahead by a run.
Payton was thrown out at the plate twice in the game.
Phil Wetherell was solid in three innings out of the bullpen for WKU, but the Hilltopper offense could never find another run in its final four at-bats.
The Hilltoppers turned three double plays in the game.
Up Next: The Hilltoppers are back in action Friday night at 6:00 as they begin a three-game Sun Belt Conference series against UALR at Nick Denes Field. First pitch of game two is at 3:00 PM on Saturday, and Sunday's series finale will start at 1:00 PM.