Freshmen rise to the occassion in Toppers’ 13-3 win over Belmont

Billy Rutledge

The second of five games this week was played Wednesday night at Nick Denes Field against the Belmont Bruins. Less than 24 hours after a rain delayed victory at Austin Peay, the WKU baseball team (25-21) defeated the Bruins (18-25-1) 13-3.

Because of the quick turn around time from Tuesday’s game where the players didn’t get home until 2am, the WKU lineup was not in its typical form. Three freshmen –  Clint Hardy, Hunter Wood and Leiff Clarkson – started the game went on to carry WKU to victory. Freshman Paul Murry also made an appearance in the sixth inning as a pinch hitter and singled to right field.

The freshmen ended the game going 7-for-12 with one home run and five RBI’s. Clint Hardy hit his first home run of his college career in the eighth inning and finished the night two for four with three RBI’s. 

“It’s neat that those guys can come in there and you don’t skip a beat,” Coach Matt Myers said. “It’s good for them because I think down the stretch as we are with some injuries, you never know when that opportunity is going to come. If you get those guys in their with some confidence, you don’t skip a beat when you need to go get them.”

The WKU bats were alive and well as they had 19 hits in Wednesdays game, which was a season high. Every Topper that started had a hit in the game which included more stelar performances from Regan Flaherty, Scott Wilcox and Wood. The only inning where WKU didn’t score were the fourth and the seventh.

“We had great at-bats tonight,” Hardy said. “Everyone is seeing the ball really good especially good to see coming off a late night, so hopefully it will carry over to the weekend.” 

After Belmont scored one in the first, WKU responded with two runs in the first, two in the second, one in the third and five in the fifth.

In the fifth inning WKU scored five runs on five singles and an error. Hits from Flaherty, Wilcox, Hardy, Clarkson and Anderson Miller totaled the five as WKU began to pull away from the Bruins. 

The Toppers would go on to score two more in the sixth and one in the eighth to reach their total of 13.

“I like our offense. It seems like every time we go against a staff that can really pitch we come out and raise the bar and get after them,” Myers said. “13 runs on 19 hits is very efficient.”

Senior Austin Clay started the game for WKU after being regulated to the bullpen the past few weeks. Clay pitched six innings giving up two runs (one earned) on six hits and five strike outs on 113 pitches. 

After Clay, another Freshman stepped up in Cody Coll. Coll pitched two innings allowing only one run.

WKU’s next game will be the first of three at Louisiana Monroe Friday at 6 p.m.