WKU puts Louisville loss behind in prep for UALR

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)

Billy Rutledge

The WKU baseball team was held to one run and five hits when they traveled to face the Louisville Cardinals Tuesday night. The Toppers (21-20, 9-9 Sun Belt Conference) were defeated 3-1 at Jim Patterson Stadium as the Cardinals completed the season sweep.

The Toppers bats struggled the entire afternoon as WKU didn’t manage a run until the eighth inning. In innings three through seven, Cardinals pitcher Josh Rogers sat down 12 batters in a row. Rogers pitched seven innings allowing three hits and one earned run on 75 pitches.

WKU’s run in the eighth inning came after a leadoff single by senior captain Regan Flaherty to start the inning. Junior catcher Ryan Messex hit a RBI double over the center fielders head to score the lone run.

With no outs and a man on second down 2-1, WKU then proceeded to strikeout twice and grounded out to end the inning.

“That’s a credit to Rogers, he did a really nice job with us tonight,” Coach Matt Myers said. “Their defense made some really nice plays and you don’t get too many opportunities against Louisville. They are really good.”

With WKU losing the season series to Louisville, the team will look ahead to a weekend series against Arkansas-Little Rock (16-21, 5-13).

The Toppers are 9-9 in Sun Belt play this season and are ranked fourth in the conference. WKU is four games out of second place while the Trojans are in ninth out of ten. With only a 5-13 record in conference and a 2-15 on the road, Arkansas-Little Rock will have its hands full at Nick Denes field where the Toppers are 15-6 this season.

“I truly believe we are the best team talent and overall than anyone else on out schedule,” junior first baseman Ryan Church said. “I’m a firm believer that the hottest team wins games in the playoffs. We have to start taking care of business when business needs to be taken care of and I don’t think we’ve done that. The troops are ready to go and ready to rock and roll and that’s all that takes.”

Despite the Trojans struggles, they have managed to win weekend series against Troy and Georgia State both at home. WKU lost its series with Troy earlier this year while winning the Georgia State series.

A struggling WKU bullpen will have two solid hitters to deal with this weekend. Ben Crumpton and Tanner Rockwell have a batting average of over .300 and lead the team in almost every offensive category.

“They are a physical offense, coach (Scott) Norwood has got those guys playing pretty well,” Myers said. “They are a junior college heavy team. You don’t get too familiar when there are a lot of replacements coming in and out but they are going to play hard.

“They have been a different team on the road then they have been at home, they are very good at home. I think we’re very good at home so the weekend focus will be on us taking care of us game by game but I feel really good about this team taking off.”

The first game will be held Friday at 6 p.m. at Nick Denes Field.