Hilltoppers swept in C-USA opening series

WKU’s pitcher Sam Higgs (19) throws a pitch during WKU’s 6-5 win over Austin Peay on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at Nick Denes Field in Bowling Green, Ky. Mike Clark/HERALD ARCHIVE

Sam Porter

The WKU baseball team traveled to Norfolk, Virginia, to take on Old Dominion and former WKU Head Coach Chris Finwood.

Finwood coached WKU for six years and earned the Sun Belt Conference’s Ron Maestri Coach of the Year award in 2009. In Norfolk the Monarchs swept the Hilltoppers, winning two games on Friday as well as the final game on Saturday.

The sweep drops the Toppers to 11-8 overall and 0-3 in Conference USA play. It improves the Monarchs to 16-4 and 3-0 in conference play.

In the opening game, the Monarchs jumped out to an early 3-0 lead as the Toppers didn’t get a man on base until the fourth inning.

Senior infielder Danny Hudzina hit an RBI single into the right centerfield gap that brought home redshirt junior outfielder Zach Janes to put the Toppers on the board in the fourth inning.

The hit also extended Hudzina’s hitting streak to 22 games. After the Monarchs answered with a run in the bottom of the fourth, the Toppers cut the lead down to one in the top of the fifth.

Sophomore infielder Steven Kraft smacked an RBI double to bring home freshman infielder Steven DiPuglia and make the score 4-2.

Hudzina followed up with a sacrifice fly to bring home Janes, once again cutting the lead to one. However, that was the last run for the Toppers. The Monarchs scored the game’s final four runs to win 8-3.

In the second game, senior pitcher Josh Bartley kept the Monarchs scoreless for three innings before the Toppers got the first run on the board.

Kraft grounded out but brought home sophomore infielder Grant Malott to put the Toppers up 1-0. Shortly after, Hudzina ripped a double into left centerfield to extend his hitting streak to 23 games and bring home Janes to extend the lead to 2-0 after three innings.

However, a four-run inning in the top of the fourth gave the Monarchs a 4-2 lead. From that point on, the game became a pitching duel.

Bartley didn’t allow another run for the rest of the game. Junior pitcher Sam Higgs came in to relieve Bartley in the seventh inning and kept the Monarchs scoreless as well.

Yet the Toppers failed to bring home any more runs, and Old Dominion took the second game by a final score of 4-2.

The third and final game started out as a low-scoring affair but turned into a shootout. With the game tied 1-1, Hudzina broke the game open.

The nation’s No. 4 leader in hits sent a two-run homer over the fence to put the Toppers on top 3-1.

Shortly after, a wild pitch allowed sophomore outfielder Kaleb Duckworth to sneak home. Finally, DiPuglia’s bunt scored redshirt sophomore infielder Harrison Scanlon to make the score 5-1 to cap off a four-run inning.

However, the Monarchs answered with a four-run inning of their own to tie the game 5-5 after six innings. The Toppers answered with another big inning in the eighth.

Graduate student catcher Ty Downing hit an RBI single through the left side infield, scoring Duckworth to give the lead back to the Toppers.

Shortly after, Malott’s two-run single brought Downing and junior outfielder Paul Murray to extend the lead to 8-5.

Once again, the Monarchs answered. A seven-run inning gave Old Dominion a 12-8 lead. Needing four runs to extend the lead, the Toppers couldn’t get anything going and lost by a final score of 12-8 to cap off a 0-3 start in Conference USA.

The Toppers will play the Austin Peay Governors Tuesday at 6 p.m. on Nick Denes Field to begin a five-game home stretch over the next week.