Big fourth inning propels Hilltoppers past Aces

Sam Porter

The WKU baseball team hosted the University of Evansville Tuesday in a Conference USA and Mountain Valley Conference showdown.

The Hilltoppers defeated the Aces by a final score of 6-5 thanks to a five-run inning in the bottom of the fourth. The win improves the Toppers to 17-11 and drops the Aces to 15-12 overall.

“It feels great to get this midweek win. The last two weeks have been a struggle for us,” junior pitcher Cody Coll said after the game. “It wasn’t the prettiest game, but we got it done. That’s all that matters.”

After Coll and Evansville’s Austin Allinger pitched three scoreless innings, the Aces got on the board in the top of the fourth. Evansville’s Jeff Christen doubled to left field to bring home Korbin Williams for the opening run.

However, the Toppers answered with a huge inning in the bottom of the fourth.

Sophomore outfielder Kaleb Duckworth roped a double deep into left field to score senior infielder Danny Hudzina and redshirt junior outfielder Zach Janes, giving the Toppers their first lead.

Soon after, junior outfielder Paul Murray scored redshirt sophomore first basemen Harrison Scanlon to put the Toppers ahead 3-1.

With Murray on third base, Allinger threw a wild pitch that allowed Murray to sneak home to push the lead to 4-1. Sophomore infielder Steven Kraft’s RBI double brought in junior catcher Hunter Wood to cap off a five-run inning.

“There’s nothing better than that as a pitcher,” Coll said. “I couldn’t get a few across the first few innings, and I got in a few jams. I knew they would come along like they always do.” 

The Aces came back in the bottom of the fifth. After Evansville’s Boomer Snyek’s sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 5-2, Jonathan Ramon hit a solo home run to cut the lead to two runs. Afterwards, freshman Evan Acosta came in to pitch for Coll.

“Cody did a great job for us today,” Head Coach John Pawlowski said. “We were hoping to get five innings out of him, and we did. Then we turned it over to the bullpen.”

After the two teams traded runs in the sixth inning, the Aces dug even closer. Ramon’s sacrifice scored Snyek to cut the lead to 6-5 going into the bottom of the seventh inning.

Finally, senior pitcher John Harman and redshirt junior pitcher Jackson Sowell came in to finish the Aces off. The two pitchers each pitched one scoreless inning to give the Toppers the 6-5 victory.

“We’ve been hoping for John Harman to step up, and he did tonight,” Pawlowski said. “He did a great job then turned it over to Jackson Sowell in the final inning.”

Coll got his first victory of the season on the mound to improve to 1-2.

“It’s been tough for Cody,” Pawlowski said about Coll’s season. “He did a great job tonight helping us get the win against a really good offensive ball club.”

The Toppers improve to 17-11(5-4 C-USA) and will host Louisiana Tech (15-9, 4-5 C-USA) this weekend for a three-game C-USA series.