Church’s grand slam propels WKU to 9-6 win over Arkansas State

WKU junior infielder Ryan Church attempts to recovery the baseball thrown to him at first base during WKU’s 5-3 lost against Louisville at the Bowling Green Ballpark in Bowling Green, Ky on Wednesday March 26, 2014. (Jeff Brown/HERALD)

Billy Rutledge

A grand slam by junior first baseman Ryan Church and hot bats propelled the WKU baseball team over the Arkansas State Red Wolves 9-6 Saturday afternoon.

It was the fifth inning where WKU (18-14, 6-5 Sun Belt Conference) was able to do most of its damage where the Toppers scored five runs. Trailing 3-1 to start the inning, sophomore Trevor Lowe was hit by a pitch and a single by senior David Simmons put runners at the corners for junior shortstop Cody Wofford. 

Wofford delivered a single to score Lowe and put runners on first and second with two outs. After senior Scott Wilcox drew a walk to load the bases, Church slammed his first pitch at bat over the left field wall and onto Avenue of Champions for his fifth home run of the year to put WKU in front 6-3.


“I walked up to the plate and my plan was see something up and try to drive it,” Church said. “He gave it to me and I took advantage. This team battles. This team fights and I’m pumped up about it.”

The grand slam was WKU’s first since Kes Carter hit one against Austin Peay on April 12, 2011.

Sophomore Anderson Miller continued his hot streak going 4-of-5 from the plate with a solo home run in the seventh inning. This week at Nick Denes Field he is now 11-of-16, with five RBI’s, two doubles and a home run. His batting average has climbed to .376.

Junior Cody Wofford, who is returning from a hamstring injury, ended the day 2-of-5 with three RBI’s and a run. A run and RBI in the fifth inning and a two-out two run single in the eighth gave WKU some much needed insurance runs.

“(Arkansas State) kept trying to come back but the offense kept keeping them away,” coach Matt Myers said. “I was proud of how our guys responded.”

The Red Wolves made it interesting in the later innings as they scored in both the seventh and eighth innings to cut the lead to 7-6.

WKU tacked on two in the bottom half of the eighth inning on Wofford’s two-out two run single. A 9-6 lead proved enough for the pitching staff for WKU, allowing no runs in the ninth. Eight of the nine runs score by the Toppers were scored with two outs in the inning. 

“Our guys have played phenomenal,” Myers said. “They are a very good team that can really pitch and I think our offense did a heck of a job. I was proud of Austin Clay competing and Josh Bartley did a good job. The goal every weekend is to win the series and we have an opportunity to get three.”

Senior Austin Clay (4-2) and sophomore Josh Bartley were the only two pitchers to play Saturday. Clay received his fourth win after pitching five innings, giving up three runs on three hits and five walks. Bartley pitched the remainder of the game and recorded his first save of the season. Bartley went four innings giving up two earned runs on four hits with three strikeouts.

WKU and Arkansas State will play again Sunday at Nick Denes Field at 1 p.m. The Toppers will be looking to go for their third sweep of the year and fifth win in a row.