Toppers take momentum into road trip to Troy

Sophomore third baseman Thomas Peter avoids being tagged by Arkansas State freshman infielder Eric Wilcoxson during their 9-6 victory Saturday over the Red Wolves. WKU won two games out of the three-game series against their conference rivals. (Ian Maule/HERALD)

Billy Rutledge

The WKU baseball team has a much easier road ahead of them halfway through the season.

After posting a 6-6 record against four of the nine Sun Belt Conference opponents so far this year which included the top three teams in the conference, WKU (18-15, 6-6 Sun Belt) will face the bottom half of the conference for the rest of the regular season.This weekend’s opponent will be the Troy Trojans (16-17) in Troy, Ala.

The three game weekend series will put the two teams up against each other for the first time this season and the 26th time all-time. WKU trails the series 13-22 while 7-10 at Troy.WKU’s offense has been on a hot streak lately averaging eight runs a game over the last eight games.

Sophomore outfielder Anderson Miller and junior catcher Ryan Messex lead the team in batting average, Miller with a .371 average while Messex is at .360.The Toppers will look to improve their pitching mid-way through the season if they want to make a run in the post season.

This weekend, Coach Matt Myers will put sophomore Josh Bartley in the starting weekend rotation. Bartley is 3-2 on the year, posting a 4.60 ERA with one save. As for the Sunday starter, he’s still not quite sure who will see the mound.

“We’re going to TBA Sunday, if I have to use Josh to win Saturday I will, if not he will probably go Sunday. We’re 1-3 on Sundays, Arkansas State is 4-0 with their best arm on Sundays and there is a difference between second and fourth right now and we have to do better.”

The Trojans are 10-10 at home this year with wins against Northern Kentucky, Central Michigan and Georgia State.

Troy is coming off a four game losing streak which included begin swept by Louisiana-Lafayette and a loss at Auburn. Troy ranks eighth in the Sun Belt standings with a 4-7 conference record.The Trojans come into the weekend with a few power hitters.

Troy has three players that currently have five home runs.Accounting for three batters that average over .300 batting average and a Friday starter, Shane McCain, who boast a 2.67 ERA over 54 innings of work.

WKU is no stranger to tough pitching though after facing some of the best pitching in the NCAA this year against East Carolina and ULL.

“They play much better at home,” Myers said. “We’ve got to go there and put the pedal to the medal and don’t give them confidence at home. Epically on the road if we can throw the first punch and get them reeling a little bit it will be huge. We have to pitch well on the road.”

The first game will be played Friday at 6 p.m. at Riddle-Pace Field.