Tops host UK Tuesday at BG Ballpark

Tyler Mansfield

Now 21 games into what it expected to be a season of improvement, the WKU baseball team isn’t quite where it wants to be.

The Hilltoppers (7-14 overall, 1-2 Conference USA) have gotten off to a shaky start, struggling to find and maintain a consistent rhythm. WKU has had just one winning streak extend past a single game – with that being two in the first series of the year – while currently having a trio of three-match losing streaks.

With not a single midweek victory (0-4) under its belt, the Toppers return to the diamond on Tuesday evening, as they’ll host Southeastern Conference foe Kentucky (15-6, 3-0 SEC) at Bowling Green Ballpark, home of the Class-A Tampa Bay Rays Minor League affiliate Bowling Green Hot Rods. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m.

WKU has struggled in midweek contests this season, suffering losses to Belmont, Eastern Kentucky, No. 24 Vanderbilt and the Wildcats, respectively. The Tops traveled to Lexington back on March 1 trying for another victory over an SEC opponent, but came back to Bowling Green with a 17-2 obliteration.

It was a game in which WKU loaded the bases in the first inning, but couldn’t get a single runner home, as junior outfielder Colie Currie lined out to left field to end the threat. UK then responded with five runs apiece in the first and second innings to jump out to an early 10-0 lead.

The Toppers scored their first run off of redshirt junior infielder Grayson Ivey’s RBI double that scored junior outfielder Kaleb Duckworth and then added another score on freshman infielder Kevin Lambert’s first career homerun over the left field fence, but it wouldn’t be enough.

Since that meeting between the two clubs, WKU has went 4-8 while Kentucky has won eleven outings while just dropping one. The Wildcats traveled to College Station, Texas this past weekend and swept Texas A&M 3-0 to record their first road sweep since 2008. The Hilltoppers, on the opposite side of things, dropped a three-game home series (2-1) to Alabama-Birmingham.

WKU opened its series against the UAB Blazers with a 9-6 win, but dropped games two and three by scores of 8-4 and 5-0. In Saturday’s doubleheader, graduate student infielder Thomas Peter hit a solo homerun in each game, but it wouldn’t be enough. On Sunday, the Hilltoppers couldn’t get the bats going and struggled on the mound.

UK is led by senior outfielder Zach Recks, who sports a .377 batting average and has racked up 29 hits in 77 at bats this season. Recks has also tallied 17 RBI and has recorded a homerun. On the mound, junior left-handed pitcher Zach Logue holds a 2.43 earned run average and is 3-1 in 29.2 inning. Logue has recorded 24 strikeouts and given up just 11 runs.

WKU’s senior catcher Hunter Wood is batting .333 as he has racked up 24 hits – including four homers – to go along with 16 RBI. Left-handed redshirt junior pitcher Ryan Thurston has recorded 45 strikeouts and is 2-1 with an earned run average of 4.34.

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