Hilltoppers drop midweek contest against Bellarmine

WKU infielder Jack Wilson (9) runs home to score at the baseball game at Nick Denes Field on Feb. 27, 2021. WKU lost 11-3.

Wyatt Sparkman

WKU (8-8) hosted the Bellarmine Knights (4-10) Tuesday afternoon for the Hilltoppers’ first midweek home game. Bellarmine snapped WKU’s four game win streak winning 7-3. 

“Tough one today, tough one today,” head coach John Pawlowski said. “Tough midweek game we didn’t play the way we’re certainly capable of playing today in a number of different areas, but you take it, learn from it, and move on.”   

For WKU, senior Jack WIlson hit 2-for-3 with two doubles against Bellarmine. 

“Individually, I felt I had some good ABs,” Wilson said. “I’ve kind of started the year off struggling a little bit, but today I felt like each at bat was a good AB and I put some quality swings on balls and got some quality barrels, so it was good.”  

Senior Alex Cleverly went 1-for-4 for Bellarmine with the go ahead homerun, the first of his collegiate career. 

Sophomore Devyn Terbrak got his second-straight midweek start for the Hilltoppers. He pitched for 5.2 innings allowing three runs and striking out seven batters. 

“I feel I did good, but then sometimes I just barreled up balls and just hit it to where we weren’t at, where we didn’t have fielders, and then just got around on the bases sometimes,” Terbrak said.  

Freshman Devin Ecklar made his first start for the Knights, tossing for four innings and allowing three runs with three strikeouts.  

The Knights went three up and three down to start the game. In the bottom of the first frame, graduate Davis Sims was injured on a hit by pitch. Freshman Andrew Delaney came in to pinch run for Sims. After Delaney stole second base, sophomore Jackson Gray batted him in on a RBI single to give the Hilltoppers a 1-0 lead. Ecklar got out of the inning with a strikeout.   

After both teams had nothing to show for in the second inning, freshman Noah Nelson started the third inning off with a double. The Knights tied the game two batters later with an RBI single from senior Josh Finerty. 

Terbrak struck out two straight batters to get out of the top of the third inning. In the bottom of the third, WKU reclaimed the lead when senior Ray Zuberer III hit his third homerun of the season. WKU could not add any more runs to end the third inning. 

After the Knights went three up and three down, senior Jack Wilson started the bottom of the fourth inning off with a double to center field. Then senior Kevin Lambert batted Wilson in on an RBI single to extend the Hilltopper lead 3-1. Ecklar would get two straight pop ups to end the fourth inning. 

In the top of the fifth frame, redshirt junior Jack Ockerman hit a single with two outs. Then he advanced to third on a throwing error trying to steal second base. He scored on a wild pitch by Terbrak. Terbrak got out of the top of the fifth with a strikeout.     

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Bellarmine made a pitching change going to graduate Anthony Ethington for Ecklar. Zuberer hit a single, then Gray hit a double to put WKU runners on second and third base. Senior Matt Phipps left them stranded when he popped up to end the fifth inning.

Senior Chris Gambert hit a double in the top of the sixth frame. Gambert then scored on an RBI single to tie the game up at three each. Then WKU made a pitching change going to junior righty Ryan O’Connell for Terbrak. 

O’Connell got WKU out of the top of the sixth with a pop up. The Hilltoppers could not retaliate in the bottom of the sixth leaving a runner stranded on first base.   

Cleverly then hit his first collegiate homerun to give the Knights a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh frame. O’Connell proceeded to strike out the next two batters to get out of the top of the seventh frame.

After a lead-off walk, Gray hit a single with two outs to put runners on first and third base for WKU. Then Phipps popped up leaving WKU’s seventh and eighth runners stranded on base to end the seventh inning.

“We just have to have a little bit more clutch hits come up with those situations,” Wilson said. “Guys got to focus.” 

To begin the eighth frame, WKU made a pitching change, going to Wil Mortiz for O’Connell. Both teams had nothing to show in the eighth inning.  

To start the ninth, redshirt sophomore Aaron Shiflet comes in for WKU in relief of Moritz. Bellarmine then added two runs making their lead 6-3 with a balk that scored a runner from third and an RBI single from Ockerman.

Pawlowski made a pitching change going to redshirt junior Collin Lollar for Shiflet. Lollar got out of the top of the ninth, but not before the Knights scored another run to extend their lead 7-3. 

The Hilltoppers went three up and three down to end the afternoon affair. Bellarmine won 7-3.      

WKU looks to bounce back as they host Valparaiso for a three game series over the weekend. Game one starts Friday at 5 pm.

“Valpo is a very talented team. They’ve got some very good pitching and we’re going to have a challenge this weekend,” Pawlowski said. “Every game is a challenge.”     

Baseball beat reporter Wyatt Sparkman can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Wyatt on Twitter at @WyattSparkman3