Tops lose series at La. Tech, host EKU Tuesday

Junior right handed pitcher Conner Boyd (43) looks to pitch during the Hilltoppers 3-1 loss against Charlotte on April 15 at Nick Denes Field.

Tyler Mansfield

After traveling to Ruston, Louisiana this past weekend and suffering a sweep by Conference USA foe Louisiana Tech, the WKU baseball team is now set to play its final midweek game of the season tonight at 5 p.m. against Eastern Kentucky University at Nick Denes Field.

Entering the weekend slate following a 22-17 home victory over Austin Peay last Tuesday, the Toppers looked to carry the momentum from that win into La. Tech. However, that wouldn’t be the case for WKU, as it wasn’t able to secure a single win and now looks to snap a three-game losing streak.

The Hilltoppers (13-32 overall, 4-17 C-USA) battled in the final two games of the series, but weren’t able to come out on the winning side of things. WKU, who continues to sit in 12th place out of 12 teams in the conference standings, lost the series opener 7-1 before falling 6-5 and 5-1, respectively.

Throughout the course of the weekend, La. Tech out-hit Western 27-17 while being outscored 18-8. Just four different Toppers recorded multi-hit games in the three contests while the club, as a whole, committed five errors.

In Sunday’s 5-1 loss, WKU and Tech were tied at 1-1 after six complete innings, but the Bulldogs went on to score two runs in each of their final two frames to complete the sweep.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs’ Jon Washam singled to first base and then advanced to second on a WKU fielding error, which scored Raphael Gladu. Then, in the ensuing inning, Gladu sent a two-run home run over the left field wall to seal the deal for the Bulldogs.

Colie Currie, Bryson Smith and Hunter Wood each finished with a hit each for the Hilltoppers. Jeff Ciocco started on the mound and allowed four walks, three hits and a run in 3.2 innings.

EKU (22-22, 8-13 Ohio Valley Conference) ventures into Bowling Green following a series defeat to Jacksonville State in Richmond. The Colonels played consistent baseball all throughout the weekend, but couldn’t overcome JSU’s high-powered offense. Eastern won Sunday’s series finale, 10-7, to avoid the sweep.

WKU and EKU are familiar with one another, meeting back on March 8 in Richmond. In a 10-inning affair that the Colonels won 16-15, the two clubs combined for 31 runs on 34 hits and 19 walks. In the loss for the Hilltoppers, junior outfielder Steven Kraft led the way with two homeruns while driving in four runners and scoring three.

The Colonels are led by senior first baseman Ben Fisher, who is batting .364 while starting – and playing – in each game this season. Fisher has recorded 64 hits on the year with 56 RBI and 20 homeruns.

Following Tuesday’s meeting with EKU, WKU returns to C-USA play with a three-game series against Marshall in Huntington, West Virginia.

 Reporter Tyler Mansfield can be reached at (270) 935-0007 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @CallMeMansfield.