Hilltoppers split series against No. 13 Mississippi State

WKU’s Ryan Church slides safely into second base underneath the tag of South Alabama’s Davis Knapp during their game at Nick Denes field on Friday, April 18, 2014. The Toppers would go on to lose 13-10. (Brian Powers/HERALD)

John Reecer

In WKU’s two-game series against nationally ranked No. 13 Mississippi State University (15-4), the Hilltoppers (7-8) won Wednesday night in Starkville 3-1 after dropping the first game Tuesday 6-5 in extra innings.

The victory gives the Hilltoppers their tenth win over a top 25 program since 2008 while also halting the Hilltoppers previous three game losing streak in which WKU gave up 21 runs.

In Tuesday’s contest, the Hilltoppers put up a spirited effort after trailing the Bulldogs 4-0 after four innings. WKU would rally back to force the game into extra innings where they lost on a walk-off single in the tenth inning.

Junior third baseman Danny Hudzina sparked the Hilltopper rally in the fifth inning with a solo-home run which broke up Mississippi State pitcher Lucas Laster’s no-hit bid.

After Hudzina’s play, the Hilltoppers would add two more runs before the ninth inning where Hudzina and freshman outfielder Kaleb Duckworth would add two more scores on back-to-back solo home runs.

However, the Bulldogs tied the game back up in the bottom of the ninth inning off a WKU wild pitch and they would eventually win the game on John Holland’s walk-off single.

After their tough loss, the Hilltoppers rebounded strong on Wednesday with one of WKU’s best team wins of the season in their 3-1 victory.

The bullpen for WKU pitched seven shout-out innings after freshman starter Logan Weins gave up only one run in two innings while every player in the Hilltopper lineup either had a hit or a RBI.

Hudzina, Duckworth and sophomore outfielder Paul Murray all added RBI’s while sophomore pitcher Cody Coll picked up his second victory of the season. Junior pitcher Josh Bartley forced the contest’s last two outs as he picked up his second career save for the Hilltoppers

At the conclusion of the series, Hudzina currently leads the team on the season in hits (20) and total bases (31). He is also tied for the lead in home runs (3) and RBI’s (15) while batting .323 on the season.

The victory over Mississippi State gives WKU seven wins over nationally ranked opponents since Head Coach Matt Myers took started coaching the team in 2012.

The Hilltoppers will be back in action Friday at Nick Denes Field where they will start their first ever Conference-USA series against Old Dominion at 6:00 p.m.