LAFAYETTE, La. — Tyler Frederick doubled home the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, and WKU dropped its third-straight Sun Belt Conference weekend series with a 4-3 defeat at Louisiana-Lafayette Sunday afternoon. WKU is now 33-20 overall and 14-13 in the league, and Louisiana-Lafayette improves to 34-17 and 18-9 with the win.
WKU has lost five-straight extra-inning games and four-straight conference series on the road.
Matt Payton and Jake Wells each had two hits for the WKU offense, and Phil Wetherell took the loss after pitching well for three innings in relief. Taylor Hubbell earned the win for the Ragin' Cajuns.
Each starting pitcher was effective in the first two innings, as WKU starter Tanner Perkins allowed only a two-out single in the first inning in his first start since April 21 at Louisville. Louisiana-Lafayette starter Joey Satriano, making his first start of the season, retired the first six Hilltoppers in order, and the game was scoreless heading into the third inning.
The Hilltoppers broke through for three runs in the top of the third to open the scoring, thanks to a couple of doubles and a run-scoring throwing error by the Ragin' Cajun catcher. Kory Petri walked to lead off the inning and went to third on Wells' double to right-center field. Blake Crabtree popped out to short right field for the first out of the inning, but Payton delivered with a two-run double down the right-field line to put WKU on the scoreboard. Payton then stole third base and scored on the play when Chad Keefer's throw to third caromed off the action at the base into the Louisiana-Lafayette dugout.
Perkins responded to his offense scoring three runs by keeping the Ragin' Cajuns off the scoreboard in the home-half of the third, something WKU could not do when taking the lead on Saturday night. He got two quick outs before hitting a batter, but he retired Matt Goulas on a harmless pop out to end the inning.
Each team threatened in the middle innings but neither could push across a run, and the score remained 3-0 in favor of WKU after six innings. The Hilltoppers had at least one baserunner in each of the fourth through sixth innings off Satriano and Ragin' Cajun reliever Thad Griffen but could not score. Perkins ran into some trouble for the first time in the game in the top of the fourth, giving up two singles and a walk, but a good defensive play and a groundout ended the inning before Louisiana-Lafayette could cut into the three-run WKU lead.
Perkins was lifted with two outs in the fifth and a runner on second base in favor of right-hander Taylor Haydel for the righty-righty matchup, and Haydel got a first-pitch flyout to end the fifth. He then set down the Ragin' Cajuns in order in the sixth to keep WKU in front, 3-0, after six innings.
Perkins worked 4.2 innings and only gave up four hits. He struck out four and walked one in the game.
WKU loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the seventh, but Logan Robbins was robbed of a run-scoring base hit when Tyler Frederick made a diving stop towards the third base line and forced out Wells at third to end the inning.
The Ragin' Cajuns carried the momentum of getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the last WKU at-bat by scoring three times to tie the game at 3 in the bottom of the seventh, but the WKU bullpen effectively limited the damage after that. The first three hitters of the inning reached base against Haydel on two singles and a double, and WKU elected to bring Rye Davis out of the bullpen with two runners on base and nobody out. Davis gave up a run on a single by Greg Fontenot that brought Louisiana-Lafayette within a run and walked the next hitter, and the bases remained loaded with nobody out. But Davis got Matt Goulas to foul out to first base for the key first out of the inning.
Garrie Krueger entered the game to face the left-handed swinging Jordan Poirrier with the bases loaded and one out and got Poirrier to ground out to second base. A run scored on the play, and the game was tied at 3. Wetherell then entered the game to again try to take advantage of the righty-righty matchup, and he induced a flyout to right field to end the seventh inning with runners on second and third.
After WKU left a runner on base in the top of the eighth Wetherell mowed down the Ragin' Cajuns in order in the bottom of the eighth, keeping the game tied at 3 entering the ninth inning.
Wells made it to third as the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth but was stranded there, and Wetherell struck out two of the three men he faced in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra innings.
The two-three-and-four hitters for WKU went down in order in the top of the 10th, and after a pair of sparkling defensive plays by Matt Rice and Matt Borgschulte Frederick doubled to right field to plate the winning run.
The Hilltoppers have lost six games in a row when trying to clinch a series victory.
Up Next: WKU concludes the regular season with a three-game series against Middle Tennessee at Nick Denes Field. All teams in the Sun Belt Conference play the final series of the season Thursday-Saturday, and all three games against Middle Tennessee will begin at 6:00 PM. Saturday is Senior Day, and the Hilltoppers will honor their graduating seniors in a pre-game ceremony. Saturday's game will also be broadcast on the Sun Belt Network.