March 15, 2014
ATLANTA, Ga. – WKU captured a pair of one-run victories over Sun Belt Conference foe Georgia State on Saturday, sweeping the double-header at the GSU Baseball Complex to claim its fifth consecutive weekend series. The Hilltoppers (12-8, 2-1) defeated the Panthers (10-10, 1-2) 4-3 in game one and 6-5 in 10 innings in game two after falling in the opener Friday night.
The Hilltoppers secured their fifth-straight weekend series victory dating back to the end of the 2013 season and have now swept three double-header days this season after accomplishing the feat in back-to-back weekends.
Junior first baseman Ryan Church powered WKU to its game one victory with a pair of solo home runs and was backed by strong pitching from Austin Clay, Tate Glasscock, Brennan Pearson and Ian Tompkins. Clay won his third game of the year while Tompkins picked up his seventh save of the season.
Game two was headlined by late, clutch hitting from the Hilltopper bats and a superb relief effort from junior Brandon Allen. Junior Philip Diedrick sent the contest to extra’s with his ninth-inning RBI, sophomore Trevor Lowe plated the go-ahead run in the 10th and Allen preserved the win with three innings of scoreless relief.
WKU pounded out 26 hits in Saturday’s wins, which included four hits from Church and sophomore Anderson Miller. The duo combined for eight hits, four runs, four extra-base hits and three RBI.
Complete recaps from both games can be found below
The Hilltoppers return to the diamond on Tuesday when they head to Lexington to battle No. 21 Kentucky at Cliff Hagan Stadium. First pitch time is set for 5:30 p.m. (CT). For more information on WKU Baseball, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUBaseball or visit WKUSports.com.
WKU 4, Georgia State 3
Church put the Hilltoppers on the board in the first inning with his third home run of the season, sending a solo shot straight over the centerfield wall to give WKU the 1-0 lead. The Panthers responded in their half of the first with an RBI from first baseman Nic Wilson to tie things up at 1-1.
WKU rattled off three-straight runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings, using RBI hits from sophomore outfielders Trevor Lowe and Anderson Miller before Church blasted his second home run of the game over the left field fence to make the count 4-1 in WKU’s favor. Church finished the game 2-of-4 with two RBI.
Wilson brought the Panthers within one with an RBI single in the fifth inning and a solo homer in the seventh, but the relief combination of juniors Brennan Pearson and Ian Tompkins successfully preserved WKU’s 4-3 advantage. Pearson recorded the first two outs of the eighth before Tompkins ended the frame with a strikeout.
A pair of walks made things interesting for Tompkins in the ninth inning but he registered his seventh save of the year with a pair of strikeouts to end the game. The Hilltoppers won their 50th straight game when leading after eight innings while Tompkins moved into fourth-place in WKU history with his 11th career save.
Senior southpaw Austin Clay worked 5.2 innings and struck out five in earning his third win of the season. Clay scattered seven hits, allowed two runs and equaled a season high with his five punchouts.
Miller tied a career high with three hits in the contest, which included two doubles and an RBI. Junior catcher Ryan Messex upped his team-best batting average to .364 with his sixth multi-hit performance of the year.
WKU 6, Georgia State 5
The second game began with a bang for the Hilltoppers as Lowe led off with a single and a stolen base, which set the stage for an RBI double from Wilcox. Wilcox crossed home later in the inning via an RBI groundout Flaherty to give WKU an early 2-0 lead.
Georgia State’s Nic Wilson continued to be a thorn in WKU’s side, trimming the Hilltopper advantage to 2-1 in the first with a solo shot over the centerfield wall. The Panthers added two more runs in the second with back-to-back RBI hits from Joey Roach and David Levy to jump in front of WKU 3-2.
The Hilltoppers strung together a pair of runs to reclaim the lead at 4-3 with some nice two-out hitting in the fifth inning. After Miller singled up the middle, senior outfielder David Simmons smoked a double down the left field line to score Miller from first. Junior catcher Ty Downing returned the favor to Simmons, poking an RBI single through the middle to put the Hilltoppers up 4-3.
Wilson struck for the Panthers again in the bottom half of the fifth, ripping an RBI single into left that plated Levy to knot things up at 4-4. Georgia State loaded the bases with one out in the seventh inning and it was again Wilson driving in the go-ahead run with a fielders’ choice RBI to give the Panthers the lead back at 5-4.
The Panthers’ lead held until the ninth inning when WKU led off the frame with a walk from Wilcox and a double from Church. Georgia State pitched around Flaherty to get to pinch hitter Philip Diedrick, who drove in the tying run with a hard grounder to short. WKU had runners on the corners with one out but couldn’t plate the go-ahead run in the ninth.
Junior relief pitcher Brandon Allen worked perfect eighth and ninth innings to push the contest to extra innings. Downing led off the 10th with a single to left field and freshman shortstop Leiff Clarkson moved him into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. A passed ball put Downing on third base with one out, which set the stage for Lowe’s go-ahead RBI single that gave WKU its 6-5 victory.
Allen gave up a hit but nothing more in the 10th, getting a double-play ball from the Hilltopper defense to win the game. Allen tossed three innings of scoreless relief, surrendering just one hit in earning his first career victory.
Senior right-hander Jake Thompson threw 6.1 effective innings for WKU, scattering eight hits and punching out five while giving up five runs. Freshmen relievers Sam Higgs and Ryan Thurston both recorded two big outs for the Hilltoppers in the seventh inning, getting WKU out of a bases loaded, one out jam with only one run crossing.
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