WKU wastes pitching effort in 3-1 loss to Austin Peay

Brad Stephens

All the pitching was in place for WKU to pick up an important non-conference win Wednesday night.

Unfortunately for the Toppers there wasn’t any cooperation from the lineup.

Austin Peay rallied for one run in the eighth inning and two in the ninth to pull off a 3-1 comeback win over WKU Wednesday night at Nick Denes Field.

A win over the Governors (24-5, 7-1 Ohio Valley Conference) could’ve meant a significant RPI boost for the Toppers (16-13, 7-2 Sun Belt Conference). Austin Peay (No. 23 RPI) was the highest-ranked foe on WKU’s (No. 96 RPI) schedule.

But the Topper lineup produced a single run on four hits and three walks against five Governor pitchers.

Unable to add to a lone second inning run, WKU had no response when Austin Peay rallied at the end of the game.

“You’ve got to grind out the midweek game,” coach Matt Myers said. “That game was ours… and we blew it at the end.”

The Governors scored their first run of the game in the eighth inning off Topper right-hander Josh Bartley.

Two outs into the inning left fielder Cody Hudson hit an infield single off the glove of WKU shortstop Scott Wilcox. Hudson put himself into scoring position by stealing second.

Shortstop Reed Harper then tied the game at 1-1 with an RBI single to center.

The Toppers could muster only a Wilcox walk in the bottom of the eighth, setting the stage for a tied game headed to the ninth.

Right-hander Taylor Haydel relieved Bartley and retired P.J. Torres and Kevin Corey before issuing a walk to Rolando Gautier.

“The first two hitters we did a great job of executing,” Myers said. “Then we had a two-out walk, and those are killers.”

Playing the lefty vs. lefty matchup, Myers turned to left-hander Ian Tompkins to end the inning by retiring Austin Peay’s Dylan Riner.

But Riner kept the inning alive by slapping a single to center field.

That opened the door for Jordan Hankins who, on an 0-2 pitch, hit a two-RBI double to put the Governors up by the eventual final score of 3-1.

“Hankins is their best hitter and we thrown an 0-2 curveball over the plate,” Myers said. “Just terrible execution. Ian knows that’s their best hitter, he knows where the zone’s called. Just poor execution that led to two runs.

“We make the pitch and we’re probably still playing. Two-out walk and an 0-2 hit, especially against a good team, you just don’t get those back.”

Austin Peay’s Tyler Rogers got the job done in the bottom of the ninth, sitting Devin Kelly, Ryan Huck and Adam Lavelle down in order to clinch the Governor win.

“It’s easy to bring the juice Friday through Sunday but where people’s seasons are determined are Tuesdays and Wednesdays,” Myers said. “Look at our season. If we’re different in six games now in midweek non-conference games, that could put us at 23-5.

“We haven’t panicked, but it’s learning how to win the game when it’s cold on a Wednesday when you’ve just got out of class… That’s an immature team that hasn’t won a lot. We’re getting there but we gave one away.

WKU wasted a stellar effort from right-handed starter Jake Thompson. The 6-foot-3 junior threw five innings of one-hit shutout baseball, walking two, hitting three and striking out three.

The five-inning outing was the longest of Thompson’s Topper career.

“He’s getting a lot of confidence back,” catcher Ryan Messex said of Thompson. “He’s looking really good, he’s going to be good to have coming out of the bullpen.”

Messex knocked in WKU’s lone run of the day in the second inning, scoring Kelly on an RBI single to right.

He finished the night 2-for-2 with a walk and, along with Wilcox, was one of the only two Toppers to reach base more than once.

WKU will travel to Jonesboro, Ark., this weekend for a three-game set against Sun Belt foe Arkansas State. First pitch Friday is at 6 p.m. (Radio: 1450 AM).


APSU — 000 000 012 — 3 7 0

WKU — 010 000 000 — 1 4 0

WP — Don Whitson Jr. (1-0)

LP — Taylor Haydel (0-1)

Save — Tyler Rogers (12)