Starting pitching highlights series win over UALR

WKU’s senior right handed pitcher Justin Hageman (31) pitches during the Topper’s 4-1 victory over Texas State Friday, March 21, 2014, at Nick Denes Field in Bowling Green, Ky. Hageman pitched all nine innings notching nine strike outs and allowing only four hits. (Mike Clark/HERALD)

Billy Rutledge

The WKU baseball team got the weekend series win it needed, plus a little update on personal records.

Initial pitching shined in the Toppers’ three-game series against Arkansas-Little Rock with Jake Thompson throwing a career-high 10 strikeouts in 7.1 innings Sunday afternoon while junior Ian Tompkins earned his 11th save — which ties for a WKU single season record — in a 4-1 win to clinch the weekend series.

Justin Hageman (5-1) pitched eight shutout innings with seven strikeouts in the Toppers’ 8-0 win Friday night.

Sophomore Josh Bartley, who has made his way into the Saturday role, had a much different outing in the only loss for WKU (23-21, 11-10 Sun Belt Conference) Bartley gave up four runs (three earned) on six hits through five innings in WKU’s 7-5 loss to the Trojans.

Thompson’s rubber match win came after WKU gave up two runs in the ninth inning for UALR’s lone win on the weekend.

“My main goal was to challenge them,” Thompson said. “We go out there with the same mentality every game. Our goal is to win and keep ourselves in the game for as long as possible and we know our offense will come around.”

The WKU offense had its biggest outing Friday as well as they tallied eight runs on 13 hits, which included two home runs. The first home run was the first three run homer for WKU this year off the bat of senior Regan Flaherty. Junior shortstop Cody Wofford hit a solo shot in the fifth inning for his fourth of the year. Every WKU batter reached base against the Trojans Friday.

“It was one of those things where hitting is contagious and once one guy gets rolling, Regan hitting that home run in the second inning really got us going,” Senior second baseman Scott Wilcox said. “Everyone fed off that and followed his lead.”

The offense carried over into Saturday with 10 hits from the Toppers, but three errors and three runs in in the last three innings cost WKU the sweep.

It would have been easy for WKU to come out flat after the loss and drop the series against UALR, but coach Matt Myers had other plans in mind. He showed the team a motivational video before the game on perseverance.

“They are a tough, resilient group,” Myers said. “They know who they are; they don’t need to be told negative or positive things they know who they are and what they are about. What you do is you don’t change.”

WKU looks ahead to a five-game week, four of which are on the road starting with Austin Peay on Tuesday. WKU defeated the Governors 5-2 on April 1 with Sam Higgs giving up only four hits as the starter through five innings.

WKU has won seven of the last nine outings with Austin Peay and is 44-34 all-time against the Governors in Clarksville, Tenn.