Kirkpatrick throws complete game, but Tops fall at UTSA

Redshirt Junior Ryan Thurston (20) pitches during the 5-4 win against Ohio University on Friday, March 3 at Nick Denes Field.

Tyler Mansfield

Junior right handed pitcher Paul Kirkpatrick would add his name to the record book after throwing a complete game in a Game 2 win, but the WKU baseball team would drop its weekend series on the road at Texas-San Antonio, two games to one.

Kirkpatrick, who’s in his first season with the Hilltoppers, was selected to start on the mound for Saturday’s contest and was consistent with his pitches, leading WKU Head Coach John Pawlowski to allow him to be the first Topper to throw a complete game since March 21, 2014.

In what marked WKU’s lone victory in the series – a 4-3 decision – Kirkpatrick (2-4) gave up six hits and three runs while striking out a pair of UTSA batters in the full nine  innings. Of his 120 total pitches, 67 of the Austin native’s were strikes.

“We challenged our club because today’s game was about nothing more than pride,” Pawlowski said. “I think this was our most complete defensive game all year and that was exciting to see, supporting what Paul Kirkpatrick did on the mound.”

Offensively for the Toppers (11-22 overall, 4-8 Conference USA), senior catcher Hunter Wood went 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI while junior first baseman Nathan Methvin recorded a hit and two RBI. Six different Roadrunners each had a single hit.

With both senior right fielder Thomas Peter and Wood on base, Methvin lined a double down the right field line to score the two runners and give WKU an early 2-0 lead, but UTSA responded by tying it on Bryan Arias’ two-run shot to left field in the bottom half of the first inning.

Wood drilled a solo home run right center – his fifth of the season – to give the Tops their lead back before freshman third baseman Bryson Smith hit an RBI single for the eventual game-winning run.

Before Saturday’s win, WKU suffered a 14-2 setback in the opener of the three-game slate on Friday evening. It was a game in which the Toppers recorded nine hits, but couldn’t seem to find ways to send their baserunners home. On the other hand, UTSA racked up its 14 runs off 14 hits.

Freshman left fielder Wyatt Featherston singled up the middle to score junior center fielder Colie Currie and gave WKU an early advantage. Freshman shortstop Kevin Lambert followed with an RBI double to put the Hilltoppers ahead 2-0.

A two-run homer by Jesse Baker in  the third inning helped the Roadrunners even the score before a seven-run fourth, two-run sixth and three-run seventh propelled UTSA to the win.

In Sunday’s series finale, Western would get nine hits, but would only plate a single run in a 7-1 defeat. Methvin, Peter and Smith each had two hits, but an early two-run home run by UTSA’s Arias and an RBI double from Chris Estrada put it up 3-0.

The Hilltoppers’ lone score came courtesy of Peter’s RBI single up the middle that plated Currie, who extended his on-base streak to a team-best 12 games and scored his 21st run of the year.

The Roadrunners added a single run in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, respectively, to claim the series victory.

WKU now travels to Nashville on Tuesday to take on Lipscomb at 6 p.m. The Bison defeated the Toppers, 10-4, in the season’s first meeting back on Feb. 28 at Nick Denes Field. 

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