Hageman dominates, offense clicks vs. UALR

Billy Rutledge

WKU came into Friday night’s game against Arkansas-Little Rock knowing how important this series is. Last time this year, WKU was projected to have a Regional tournament at-large bid after defeating UK in 18 innings but then proceeded to get swept by UALR and not make the tournament. 

This time WKU made sure it was not going to get swept by defeating UALR Friday night 8-0. Senior pitcher Justin Hageman (5-1) pitched eight shutout innings recording seven strikeouts and winning his fourth Friday start out of the last five. 

“Hag-o works quick and attacks the zone,” senior Scott Wilcox said. “He keeps us on our toes out there and doesn’t let us get on our heels.”

The WKU bats were alive as soon as the second inning where five hits and two walks produced five runs and a Topper lead that wouldn’t be given back. A double by designated hitter Phillip Deidrick started the momentum for the Toppers. A bunt single lead to a RBI groundout by senior David Simmons. 

After a walk, senior captain Regan Flaherty hit a three-run home run, his second of the season and first three-run home run for WKU this year. The 4-0 lead didn’t last long as sophomore Anderson Miller hit a RBI single to score one more and end the inning.

“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,” Wilcox said. “Everyone fed off that and followed his lead.”

The Toppers were back at it in the fourth and fifth innings as they added three runs. In the fourth, Wilcox hit a two run single for his second hit of the game. Wilcox went 3-4 and tallied his 19th multi-RBI game, his eighth of the season and his third three hit game of the season.

The fifth inning was headlined with a solo home run by junior Cody Wofford to extend the lead to 8-0. Every WKU batter reached base Friday in a offensive outburst that totaled 13 hits.

“(Blowout wins) bring a lot of momentum to tomorrow too so its really helpful,” Wofford said “We didn’t have any pressure on us. We just try to put one and two each inning and go and play.”

WKU defense also showed up Friday as they turned three double plays in the game and no errors. Junior catcher Ryan Messex caught his 17th runner stealing in the seventh inning.

ULAR has not won a Sun Belt Conference road game as they are now 0-10 and 2-16 on the road for the season.

WKU will face Arkansas Little Rock two more times this weekend the next time being Saturday at Nick Denes Field at 3 p.m.