Hilltoppers sweep season series of UK in thrilling fashion

Hilltoppers first baseman Ryan Church slides to catch a blooper during Tuesday’s game against the Bowling Green Hotrods at the Bowling Green Ballpark. Nick Wagner/HERALD

John Reecer

WKU (17-16) defeated the University of Kentucky (19-16) for the second time this season during Tuesday night’s matchup in Lexington in a 5-3 extra-inning thriller. 

Trailing 1-3 at the top of the ninth, junior outfielder Anderson Miller hit a two-run home run, tying the game at 3-3. In the 10th inning, freshman infielder Harrison Scanlon and sophomore outfielder Paul Murray each added an RBI to give the Hilltoppers the decisive lead in the game.

“That was unbelievable,” Head Coach Matt Myers said. “I’m just so proud of these guys. That was just a gutty performance by our guys tonight. I’m so proud, and I can’t wait to get on that bus—sing the fight song all the way home.”

The Wildcats jumped out fast on WKU. They scored two quick runs in the first inning on sophomore starting pitcher Sam Higgs. Scanlon would then provide a solo home run in the third inning. The score would stay 2-1 until the eighth inning where UK added a run on a wild pitch. 

“When UK scored two in the first, I told everyone that we were off to a better start than last game to break the ice a little bit,” Coach Myers said. “I was proud of Sam Higgs settling down after he got a little a nervous in the first inning. It’s also great to see Scanlon be aggressive in the box for us.” 

Scanlon would have a memorable night as the redshirt freshman recorded two hits, two runs, two RBIs, a home run and the winning RBI which scored senior Ryan Church from third. 

“I was ready to go on a fastball, and he went outside fastball, and I just stayed with my approach,” Scanlon said. “I was trying to go middle and away, and I just swung and hit the gap. It felt great.” 

Miller extended his talented resume against his hometown team with three hits at the plate, two RBIs, a homer and a run scored. Miller is now 8-for-14 with five RBIs, two triples, one homer and a double in four career games against Kentucky. Miller has recorded either two hits or two RBIs in every game he’s played against the Wildcats. 

“Maybe (UK) should’ve recruited him,” Coach Myers said. “That’s okay though. I told him he went to the better program in the end.” 

Up next for the Hilltoppers will be a weekend conference series against Florida International (16-20) with the first game of the series starting at 4:00 p.m. CT. 

Despite their losing record, the Panthers have talent that will challenge WKU as FIU won a series against now 25th ranked Tennessee earlier this season. The matchup also will have great importance to both teams as WKU and FIU are currently tied for seventh place in the conference standings— both teams have a 7-8 record in the conference. 

A point of emphasis for the Hilltoppers will be stopping junior infielder Edwin Rios. Rios is currently leading Conference-USA in home runs, with 11, while adding 31 RBIs and a .282 average at the plate. 

The Hilltoppers have given up 69 runs in the past seven games. WKU must improve its team pitching and defense to win the series and move up in the conference standings