WKU Baseball looks to bounce back against Rice

Jeremy Chisenhall

WKU is back at Nick Denes Field this weekend to take on the Rice Owls in a three-game series. They’ll be looking to bounce back from a series sweep that they suffered at the hands of Charlotte last weekend.

The Hilltoppers currently hold an 11-25 record  and will be going up against an Owls team that is 13-25. Rices is also coming off a series loss against Southern Mississippi. Tied for last place in the Conference USA standings with 4-11 conference records, both teams will be looking to climb up from the bottom of the cellar.

WKU’s expected starters for the weekend will be Ryan Thurston on Friday, Paul Kirkpatrick on Saturday and Evan Acosta on Sunday. Thurston has a 5.54 earned run average with a 3-3 record this year. Kirkpatrick sports a 5.27 ERA, the best among the three starters, and a 2-5 record. Acosta comes into the series with a 6.34 ERA and a 1-4 record.

As for the offense, the Hilltoppers will be looking for big production from Colie Currie, the team’s leader in at-bats with 133, hits with 39, triples with four, walks with 15, batting average with .331 (minimum 100 at-bats) and on-base percentage with .395 (minimum 100 at-bats).

The Hilltoppers are also getting some great pop in their lineup from Thomas Peter, who currently leads the team in home runs with seven. He’s also leading the team in slugging percentage with .534 (minimum 100 at-bats).

Rice’s pitching staff is led by Zach Esquivel, who has a 3.22 ERA and a 3-4 record in 15 appearances this season, eight of which were starts.

Rice’s offensive attack is led by Dominic DiCaprio, who’s leading the Owls in batting average with .356, slugging percentage with .500, on-base percentage with .435 and home runs with four. He’s also tied for the lead in hits with teammate Dane Myers, as both have 47. DiCaprio’s average is top-10 in the conference.

This is the first and only series that Rice and WKU will play against each other this season. Rice has a slight upper hand in similar opponents so far, as they lost to Southern Miss two games to one, while WKU got swept by the Golden Eagles back at the beginning of April.

Rice has a marginal advantage over WKU in most team stat categories, including batting average and runs, but WKU leads in a few categories, including total bases and home runs.

Friday’s game will be at 5:00 p.m., Saturday’s will be at 1:00 p.m. and Sunday’s will be at 12:00 p.m. After this series, WKU will head to Austin Peay for one game during the week before heading to Louisiana Tech for another weekend series.

Reporter Jeremy Chisenhall can be reached at 859-760-0198 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @JSChisenhall.