Hilltoppers look forward to UK after suffering sweep

Right handed pitcher Joe Filosa, pitches during WKU’s game against Memphis on March 10, 2019. WKU plays host to three games. WKU lost all three games; Thursday 9-6, Friday 12-4 and Sunday 10-4.

Kaden Gaylord

WKU was swept 3-0 by Memphis at home over the weekend, the Hilltoppers’ sixth loss in their last seven games.

“They just outplayed us — pitching, defense and offense,” junior infielder Kevin Lambert said. “Defensively they made all the plays, pitching filled up the strike zone and beat us in the free-base war.”

WKU stayed within striking distance for much of each game, but the Tigers eventually pulled away in all three.

In game one, a five-run second inning made the difference, as the Tigers won a close 9-6 affair. The Hilltoppers were playing catch-up the whole game. They scored two runs in the ninth inning to pull them within three runs, but they were shut out in the ninth to lose the game.
In game two, WKU was down 4-3 by the end of the fifth inning. The Hilltoppers allowed Memphis to have a five-run eighth inning and a three-run ninth inning to put the game to bed. The Tigers ended up winning 12-4.

Memphis took an early 3-0 lead in game three and scored four runs in the fourth inning. The Tigers played the rest of the game on cruise control and won 10-4, making it back-to-back games in which the Hilltoppers gave up 10-plus runs.

Junior utility player Jake Sanford went 6 for 13 in the series with two home runs, three RBIs and four runs.

“I was just looking to hit on the outside of the plate, and they were just throwing there,” Sanford said.

On Wednesday, the Hilltoppers will head 155 miles northeast to Lexington to face Kentucky, the first of two games the two will play in a home-and-home series this year.

Last season, the Wildcats claimed a close contest 4-3, scoring all of their runs in the ninth inning and winning on a wild pitch.

“I think any time you play a Power 5 team, the guys are excited about it,” head coach John Pawlowski said. “We don’t have the opportunity to play a lot of Power 5 schools, certainly Kentucky. A lot of these guys, in-state guys, they’re always excited to play them, and I know they are looking forward to Wednesday.”

Kentucky currently has a 9-4 record on the season. Three of its losses came against 14th-ranked Texas Tech.

“That’s the bottom line, we’ve got to play better,” Pawlowski said. “We didn’t play well this weekend. Like I said, it comes down to being able to do the fundamentals of baseball, so that’s where we’re at right now.”

On Friday, WKU returns home to open conference play against Alabama-Birmingham. Last season, the Hilltoppers won the series 2-1, outscoring the Blazers 21-15.

“UAB is a very good team this year like always,” Pawlowski said. “Conference play is always a challenge, and the biggest thing before we even get to that, we have to continue to work, guys got to continue to get better and prepare for success. I know they are disappointed by this weekend, disappointed by where we are at right now, but this is not the team that we are going to see as the season progresses. We’ll get better.”

WKU plays at UK at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. The series against UAB starts at 5 p.m. on Friday at Nick Denes Field.

Sports reporter Kaden Gaylord can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @_KLG3.