March 9, 2014
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – WKU senior right-handed pitcher Jake Thompson threw seven scoreless innings and senior second baseman Scott Wilcox provided the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the eighth inning Sunday as the Hilltoppers (10-5) blanked Illinois (6-7) 1-0 at Nick Denes Field to sweep the series.
Thompson tossed a career high seven innings and struck out a career-high seven batters, allowing just two hits on the day to cap a dominant weekend by the WKU pitching staff. Thompson did not surrender a hit and only allowed one base runner in between the third and seventh innings. Six of Thompson’s seven strikeouts came in those middle innings as he registered his second-straight quality start.
Wilcox broke a scoreless tie with two outs in the eighth inning, roping an RBI double down the left-field line to plate fellow senior David Simmons. Simmons drew a one-out walk earlier in the inning and stole second to get into scoring position. Wilcox came through in the clutch again as he ripped his fourth two-out hit of the year and tallied his third two-out RBI of the year for the game-winning score.
Sophomore Jackson Sowell worked a perfect eighth inning and earned his first-career win while junior closer Ian Tompkins registered his sixth save of the season with a pair of strikeouts in the ninth. Tompkins has not allowed a run in 14-straight appearances dating back to April 28, 2013 and has struck out 32 batters since allowing his last score.
WKU’s pitching staff combined to surrender just six runs on the weekend, striking out 22 batters compared to five walks. The Illini only mustered three extra-base hits and did not score a run in the final 15 innings of the series.
Illinois’ starting pitcher Drasen Johnson went toe-to-toe with Thompson for a great pitchers duel, scattering seven hits over eight-innings of one-run baseball. Johnson did issue two free passes and his second walk of the game was Simmons in the eighth inning, who came around for the game-winning run.
Junior shortstop Cody Wofford and senior outfielder Regan Flaherty both tallied a pair of hits for the Hilltopper offense that finished the weekend with 29 hits off a strong Illinois pitching staff. Flaherty’s two hits extended his streak of multiple-hit games to four-straight.
The Hilltopper win on Sunday makes it eight-straight for WKU at Nick Denes Field as the Hilltoppers have now swept consecutive three-game series at Nick Denes Field. WKU’s eight-game home winning streak is its longest since winning 16-straight in 2009 while its 10-5 start to the season is its best since starting the 2011 campaign 16-5. The sweep of Illinois was the Hilltoppers first sweep of a Big 10 opponent since taking three from Purdue in 2008.
WKU begins a six-game road swing at Georgia on Tuesday, with first pitch time scheduled for 5 p.m. (CT). The Hilltoppers take on the Bulldogs in Athens, Ga. for a two-game series before heading to Atlanta to kick off their Sun Belt Conference slate at Georgia State. The Hilltopper IMG Sports Radio Network will have the broadcast for every game and can be heard on WKUSports.tv and locally in the Bowling Green area on ESPN 1450 AM.
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