WKU clinches second C-USA series vs. UTSA

Louisville senior Ryan Messex bats in a game against OSU, March 8, 2015. WKU finished the game with one run to OSU’s 10, and the two teams played again the next day. Leanora Benkato/HERALD

John Reecer

The Hilltopper baseball team won the first two games of their series against UTSA in San Antonio and has claimed their first two series in Conference USA play. 

On Friday, WKU defeated the Roadrunners 5-4 in the highest contested game of the series. The Hilltoppers then played two seven-inning games on Sunday, due to rain delays, winning the first 8-2 but dropping the second 12-0. 

“I thought the first two games we were very complete as a team, and we played really good defense,” Head Coach Matt Myers said. “Since our win against Mississippi State we have bounced back nicely, and we had a good week this week.” 

The first game of the series showcased a close contest between the Hilltoppers and Roadrunners as WKU seniors Ryan Messex and Tate Glasscock proved to be the difference in the ninth inning. 

With the game tied at three with two outs in the ninth inning, Messex hit a two-run double down the left field line to give the Hilltoppers the deciding runs. Glasscock managed to preserve the win with a game-ending strikeout with the bases loaded. 

“You couldn’t be more proud for that kid (Messex),” Coach Myers said. “He has been struggling a bit and he knows it, but he really came through for us today.” 

Junior outfielder Anderson Miller and sophomore starting pitcher Ryan Thurston also enjoyed good games on Friday. Miller kept his hot streak alive by adding a solo home run in the sixth inning and Thurston only gave up two runs on five hits through five innings, earning the win of the day.   

The two games on Sunday were much different from one another. 

The first game saw a complete performance from the Hilltoppers, scoring runs in six of the seven scheduled innings of the contest. WKU tallied five of its 10 hits and five of its seven RBI in two-out hitting situations during the win.

For the second straight game, Miller added another homer— his seventh of the season— with a two-run slug in the sixth. Miller is currently batting .338 with seven home runs, 18 RBI’s and a .727 slugging percentage. 

Hilltopper pitchers Josh Bartley and Kevin Elder combined to give up only two runs on eight hits while combining for nine strikeouts. 

WKU could not carry that momentum of its first two victories into the third game of the series. UTSA blew out the Hilltoppers 12-0.

WKU had just five hits and scored no runs while the Roadrunners collected 12 runs on 13 hits off of four different Hilltopper pitchers. 

“We had a total complete mental lapse in game two today, and they were a good enough team to jump on us early,” Coach Myers said. “It’s disappointing because you don’t get too many chances to sweep a good club on the road, but if we get a chance to play this team again in the conference tournament, we will be very ready to play.”