LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Western Kentucky University baseball team opened a stretch of nine straight road games with a 9-2 loss at No. 18 Louisville on Tuesday night at Jim Patterson Stadium.
WKU (12-17) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first before Louisville (21-8) scored nine unanswered runs from the fourth inning on to win the first of two meetings between the in-state opponents this season.
"When we gave up the four-run inning, I thought it took the energy out of this game," WKU coach Matt Myers said. "It was 2-2, the momentum was still with us, Austin (Clay) was pitching good; we give up four runs there and I think it just took the wind out of our sails."
Hilltoppers sophomore Austin Clay (3-4) allowed five runs on four hits with a walk in 4-2/3 innings. The left-hander faced the minimum through the first three innings.
Louisville right-hander Jared Ruxer (4-0) was touched for two runs - one earned - on three hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 5-1/3 innings. Ruxer did not allow a hit after the first and allowed only one base runner to advance into scoring position.
WKU took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on an RBI single by Hutchison. On the same play, Dykes scored on an errant throw by Louisville center fielder Adam Engel.
Louisville tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run home run by first baseman Stewart Ijames, his ninth of the season.
The Cardinals sent nine batters to the plate in a four-run bottom of the fifth inning, pulling in front 6-2. An RBI single by center fielder Adam Engel broke the 2-2 tie followed by two-run single by Ijames and a one-run single by third baseman Ty Young.
UL extended its lead to 9-2 in the bottom of the ninth on a three-run home run by designated hitter Zak Wasserman, his fifth of the year.
WKU freshman Brennan Pearson allowed a run on two hits with a walk but did not record an out. Right-hander Tate Glasscock gave up unearned runs on one hit while striking out three in three innings. Glasscock retired the first nine batters he faced. Junior Colton Satterlee worked a third of an inning.
The Hilltoppers continue a stretch of nine games on the road this weekend when it travels to Lafayette, Louisiana for a three-game Sun Belt Conference series against the Ragin' Cajuns. Game times are scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
"The number one goal for us is Sun Belt Conference play," Myers said. "We've got a chance to move into the top four this weekend with a good weekend and that is the focus."
Rankings are based on the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Associate poll released Monday.