King carries Hilltoppers past Blue Raiders

Junior infielder Thomas Peter (7) stretches to keep his foot on the bag to get UA freshman Kevin Donati (12) out at first base during the game on Saturday. The Hilltoppers baseball team takes on the University of Albany Danes at Nick Denes Field in Bowling Green. Mar. 12, 2016. WKU beat UA, 12 – 2. Matt Lunsford/Herald

Sam Porter

The WKU baseball team hosted Middle Tennessee State Friday night in the first of a three game series. The Hilltoppers defeated the Blue Raiders 3-1 behind a stellar pitching performance by senior pitcher Austin King.
The two teams combined for one walk and no errors. The win improves the Hilltoppers to 12-9 on the season and gives them their first win in Conference USA play.
“I told our guys one of the most important numbers on the board is the last number at the bottom where it says errors,” Head Coach John Pawlowski said after the game. “We had zero of them tonight. I told them if we could pitch and play defense, we certainly have a chance to be in a lot of games.”
After King got the Hilltoppers out of the first inning quickly, sophomore infielder Steven Kraft took no time getting his team on the board. The Gainesville, Virginia native singled to bring home redshirt junior outfielder Zach Janes.
Shortly after, junior outfielder Paul Murray roped a single to left field to bring home Kraft to make the score 2-0 after the first inning.
After the Blue Raiders scored to cut the lead to 2-1, King and MTSU’s Nate Hoffman went back and forth on the mound. The two pitchers pitched four straight scoreless innings until the Hilltoppers finally extended the lead back to two.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, redshirt sophomore outfielder Harrison Scanlon’s sacrifice fly brought home senior infielder Danny Hudzina to make the score 3-1.
King made sure the Blue Raiders wouldn’t come any closer. The Canyon, Texas native pitched 7.1 innings and struck out nine Blue Raiders.
Sowell came in the eighth inning and finished the job. Sowell pitched 1.2 innings, allowing only four hits with no runs as the Hilltoppers held on for a 3-1 victory.
“Jackson Sowell had a hot fastball tonight,” Pawlowski said. “The ball had a lot of life on it. It was great to see him come in and finish that up for us.”
The win improves WKU to 12-9 (1-3 C-USA) and drops MTSU to 12-10 (1-3 C-USA). The two teams will the second game of a three game series Saturday at 1 p.m.