Hot Rods scrimmage halted, Southern Miss up next

WKU second baseman Leiff Clarkson prepares to receive a throw as the Hot Rods’ Bralin Jackson slides safely into second base during game, Tuesday, April 7, at the Bowling Green Ballpark. Nick Wagner/HERALD

John Reecer

Thunderstorms in the area cut the Hilltopper’s scrimmage against the Bowling Green Hot Rods short in the bottom of the fourth, with the Hot Rods holding a 1-0 advantage over the Hilltoppers. 

Statistics did not count toward either team’s season totals. Both teams used wooden bats in the exhibition along with 10-man lineups which featured two designated hitters. 

The Hilltoppers held the Tampa Bay Rays’ Class-A affiliate hitless until Hot Rod outfielder Bralin Jackson doubled to lead off the frame. Designated hitter Jace Conrad would then drive in Jackson from third base on a RBI groundout to score the matchup’s lone run. 

“The weather is unbelievable,” Head Coach Matt Myers said. “Wherever the Tops are playing, Mother Nature is bound to throw a lightning bolt, a thunder storm or some snow at us.

“It’s unfortunate because the crowd was growing as the game was going and it turned out to be a pretty good game.” 

Sophomore Sam Higgs provided the Hilltoppers with a quality start. 

Higgs allowed just one hit and one unearned run along with one strikeout in three complete innings. 

Junior outfielder Anderson Miller shined brightest for the Hilltoppers, earning a single and double in his two at bats while also adding a stolen base to the WKU effort. 

“Anderson Miller showed in front of some scouts that he can hit with a wood bat, and I loved Ryan Church’s approach,” Myers said.  “In the first inning Sam Higgs was outstanding and Brandon Allen was playing good also.” 

Ryan Church provided WKU their only other hit in the contest on a single in the first inning, which almost scored Anderson Miller from second. Miller, however, was thrown out at home plate. 

Up next for the Hilltoppers is a three-game Conference-USA series at Nick Denes Field this weekend against Southern Miss (17-11-1). The series is set to start Friday night at 6 p.m., with the following games set for Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at noon.

Southern Miss will field a strong pitching staff as the Golden Eagles currently have a team ERA of 2.48— the highest mark in the league. Senior James McMahon will lead the way for Southern Miss as the righty currently is 6-0 on the season with an ERA of 1.22. 

“They are leading the league in pitching right now, and they are going to be very much like UAB,” Coach Myers said. “Everything for them is pitching, pitching, pitching. They are beating people with their pitching staff.” 

The Golden Eagles are currently coming off a conference series against the University of Alabama Birmingham in which they defeated the Blazers two games to one. UAB recently swept the Hilltoppers as WKU never scored more than five runs against the potent Blazer pitching staff.  

“We have been preparing for it, and we look forward to the challenge,” Coach Myers said. “It’s a big weekend for us because that’s going to be a big series for us to continue to move up the rankings.”