March 24, 2014
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – WKU begins one of the toughest portions of its schedule at a venue that has been very friendly over the years as the Hilltoppers (13-11, 3-3) welcome No. 11 Louisville (17-6, 2-1) to the Bowling Green Ballpark Wednesday evening. Originally scheduled for Tuesday evening, the contest has been pushed back to Wednesday at 5 p.m. due to projected weather conditions.
WKU has never lost a regular-season game at the Bowling Green Ballpark, sporting a spotless record of 6-0 at the downtown venue. All six of those wins have come over Louisville or Kentucky, with all three victories over the Cardinals coming when they were ranked Top 25 nationally. The Hilltoppers have averaged 11.5 runs per game at Bowling Green Ballpark while holding opposition to 4.8 runs per contest.
Wednesday’s game will be WKU’s second versus a Top 25 team this season and the first of four games against Top 25 teams this week. After dueling with the No. 11 Cardinals, WKU heads to top-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette, who currently has the nation’s longest winning streak at 12 games. WKU is 1-0 against Top 25 teams this season after defeating No. 4 Vanderbilt 3-2 on Feb. 25.
The Hilltoppers split the regular-season series with the Cardinals in 2013, winning 6-5 in walk-off fashion at home and dropping a 6-2 contest in Louisville. WKU has won three-straight home games against Louisville, with all three coming victories coming at the Bowling Green Ballpark.
Sophomore right-hander Josh Bartley (2-2, 5.59 ERA) will start on the mound for the Hilltoppers. Bartley was credited with the win in last year’s win over Louisville after tossing a hitless ninth inning with one strikeout. Louisville has yet to decide on its starting pitcher.
WKU enters the week with a .277 batting average and is led by junior catcher Ryan Messex, who ranks fourth in the Sun Belt Conference with a .362 clip at the plate. Senior outfielder Regan Flaherty, who drove in the winning run off Louisville All-American closer Nick Burdi in last year’s win, is currently in the midst of a career ling 13-game hitting streak. Senior second baseman Scott Wilcox leads WKU with 15 RBI while junior first baseman Ryan Church tops the team charts in hits (26), homers (4) and total bases (43).
Louisville is batting .292 as a team and its lineup is spearheaded by the combination of Jeff Gardner and Grant Kay, who have combined for a .361 batting average and 56 RBI in 23 games.
Students attending Wednesday’s game have the chance to win a free iPad mini by entering a drawing at the marketing table on the concourse level near the main entrance. The iPad mini will be given away in the seventh inning. Bowling Green Ballpark will open its gates at 4 p.m. with first pitch scheduled for 5 p.m. For tickets and more information on WKU Baseball, call 1-800-5 BIGRED, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUBaseball or visit WKUSports.com.
How to Follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Baseball, follow the team's social media channels, @WKUBaseball on Twitter and Instagram and WKUBaseball on Snapchat.