Governors hand Hilltoppers fourth straight loss in a dominating 16-2 victory

Sophomore infielder Steven Kraft sprints for first base during WKU’s 16-2 loss to Austin Peay on Tuesday. Kraft was 1-3 with one run on the game. Nick Wagner/HERALD 

Sam Porter


The WKU baseball team hosted Austin Peay State University Tuesday in a matchup of schools separated by about 60 miles.

The Governers (10-9) dominated the Hilltoppers (11-9), who used seven different pitchers including three freshmen, and cruised to a 16-2 victory. The loss was the first midweek loss of the year for the Hilltoppers.

After a scoreless first inning, sophomore outfielder Grant Malott nailed a single to centerfield to bring home redshirt junior infielder Leiff Clarkson for the game’s opening run.

However, the Governors responded in the top of the third. Austin Peay’s T.J. Conroy grounded out to bring home Clayton Smithson to tie the game.

Shortly after, Alex Robles singled through the left side to bring home Ridge Smith to give the Governors the lead.

After the Topper offense fell victim to three consecutive outs, the Governors went back to work in the top of the fourth.

A Topper error allowed Austin Peay’s Alex Sala to come home to extend the lead to 3-1. Immediately after, Smith singled to score Smithson and Dre Gleason scored Garrett Copeland to extend the lead to 5-1.

The Toppers then turned to two freshmen, Evan Acosta and Micah Kaczor, to get WKU through the sixth inning.

The two pitchers combined for three innings and allowed only one run as the Toppers entered the seventh inning trailing 5-1.

In the bottom of the seventh, senior infielder Danny Hudzina hit down the middle to bring home sophomore infielder Steven Kraft to cut the lead to 5-2.

Hudzina also had a hit earlier in the game in the second inning, extending his hitting streak to 25 games.

However, the Governors quickly made things ugly for the Toppers in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Smithson hit a line drive to left field to bring home his teammate Imani Willis to extend the lead to 6-2.

Afterwards, Head Coach John Pawlowski put in freshman pitcher Caleb Bruner on the mound. The former Kentucky Gatorade Player of the year struggled against the Governors, giving up two runs in one inning of play.

Bruner left momentarily with an arm injury but returned in the top of the ninth. During Bruner’s absence, sophomore pitcher Connor McHugh came in but had a nightmare during his time on the mound.

The Lexington native gave up five runs on only two hits, mainly due to also giving up four walks. The Governors scored 11 of their 16 runs in the last two innings and cruised to a 16-2 victory.

The loss is the fourth straight for WKU, who now drops to 11-9 on the season.

Next up for the Toppers will be rival Middle Tennessee (12-9 overall) who will come to Bowling Green for a three-game conference series starting Friday at 6 p.m.

The Blue Raiders will enter Nick Denes Field coming off a 7-4 win over fifth-ranked Vanderbilt University.