WKU drops series opener against ULM

Austin Lanter

The WKU baseball team dropped their fifth straight game and their sixth straight Sun Belt Conference game Friday night with a 3-2 loss to Louisiana-Monroe.

Before the loss, the team had won seven straight one-run games.

“It’s not fun,” coach Matt Myers said. “We’ve lost our mojo since the Kentucky win. We’ve got to find it real quick. We’re a lot better than this. We’ve got to turn it around tomorrow.”

ULM didn’t waste any time jumping out in front Friday night.

After a leadoff single by third baseman Judd Edwards, the Toppers recorded two straight outs. The next batter, however, designated hitter Justin Stawychny, hit a double to right center field to score Edwards and give the Warhawks the 1-0 lead.

The Toppers would tie the game in the third inning courtesy of a two out single by junior shortstop Scott Wilcox. Wilcox scored senior infielder Steve Hodgins who was walked to begin the inning.

WKU almost took the lead as the very next batter, senior first baseman Ryan Huck, sent the ball to deep center field for a double. However, ULM center fielder Dalton Herrington came up throwing and the catcher tagged Wilcox out at the plate, ending the inning and keep the game tied at one.

The very next inning junior outfielder Regan Flaherty began the inning with a single to right field. Flaherty proceeded to steal second and then reached third on an error by the catcher as he was throwing to second. The next batter, senior catcher Devin Kelly, hit an RBI groundout to give the Toppers their first lead of the game at 2-1.

Although the team would load the bases that same inning with only one out, they would be unable to convert and strand all three runners on base.

“We just need to get back to doing the little things,” Wilcox said. “We’re putting good swings on the ball sometimes and they’re just not falling. If we continue to have good at-bats hopefully it’ll turn around eventually.”

In the top of the sixth inning, ULM would load the bases with one out, still down by on run. Perkins would strikeout the next better to make it two outs. However, Warhawk shortstop Kodie Tidwell lined the Perkins offering past a diving Wilcox for a two-run RBI single as ULM retook the lead 3-2.

After the Tidwell hit, Myers pulled Perkins and replaced him with freshman Josh Bartley. On the day, Perkins pitched 5.2 innings, allowed nine hits and three runs while striking out seven.

“It (the Perkins start) was OK,” Myers said. “Too many hits to left-handed hitters … He gave us a chance. Unfortunately when you’re struggling every pitch has a lot riding on it. He hit a guy 0-2 (count) and made a tough pitch … He gave us a chance and he did a good job.”

Bartley walked the only batter he faced in the inning, loading the bases for ULM again, before being replaced by sophomore Austin Clay. Clay struck out his only batter as the Warhawks stranded three on base and Clay avoided further damage in the inning.

The Toppers had a chance to get the run back in the bottom half of the inning with a runner on third and one out. However, junior outfielder Jordan Cessna grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Warhawks pitcher Cale Wine pitched seven innings, allowed 10 hits but only two runs to WKU and struck out six. The Toppers stranded nine men on base while Wine was on the mound for ULM. In the end, both teams would strand 11 runners on base.

“Just not real good at the plate outside of a couple guys, we just weren’t real tough,” Myers said. “We couldn’t get it done when we needed to.”

Four WKU players had multi-hit games Friday. Wilcox and Huck each recorded three hits while Flaherty and designated hitter Adam Lavelle had two. The four players accounted for 10 of the 11 Topper hits with Hodgins recording the other.

WKU (22-24, 11-11) and ULM (17-29, 7-19) will be back in action Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. at Nick Denes Field.