WKU battles back to defeat Troy 5-4

Austin Lanter

The WKU baseball team found itself down multiple times Saturday but battled back to defeat Troy 5-5. The series is now tied 1-1.

Troy (24-10, 8-6 Sun Belt Conference) wasted no time jumping out in front though, scoring three runs in the first inning.

Junior Andrew Edwards took the mound for WKU (19-16, 9-5 SBC) and his first batter reached base on an error by senior infielder Blake Crabtree.

Edwards walked his next batter to give the Trojans two on with no outs. Right fielder Danny Collins, who leads the team with 45 RBI’s this season, stepped into the box next and sent a three-run homer over the left field wall to give Troy the lead.

Edwards was able to avoid further damage in the inning despite Troy loading the bases with one out by recording a strikeout and forcing a groundout. On the inning, Edwards walked three Trojans.

“It obviously didn’t go the way I wanted,” Edwards said. “I made a mistake, (Collins) took advantage of it. But I got all the support from my teammates in the dugout, coach Myers just said ‘keep going’ and pitch the way I know how to and I got the result I wanted.”

The Toppers, however, didn’t stay down for long.

WKU recorded three straight singles to start the inning, the last one being an RBI single by senior first baseman Ryan Huck. A few batters later, with two on and two out, Crabtree recorded a single of his own to bring home the two runs and tie the game.

In all, the Toppers recorded five hits and three runs on the inning one day after a seven-hit, three-run effort against the same Troy team in an 11-3 loss.

After the rough start for Edwards, he retired five in a row. Then with two outs in the third, Edwards allowed three consecutive singles to score another run and retake the lead 4-3.

For the second time in the game Edwards worked out of a jam, as Troy once again had the bases loaded, to avoid further damage.

“I feel like the first inning I’m trying to find my groove,” Edwards said. “Just trying to get a feel of the mound and the umpire and what his zone is. Once I find it, I just keep it going.”

In the bottom of the fifth inning, freshman outfielder Trevor Lowe recorded his second hit of the day, a triple to begin the inning. The next batter, senior infielder Steve Hodgins, brought Lowe in with a single to tie the game once more.

The next inning, senior catcher Devin Kelly was walked to start the inning and then reached third on a sacrifice bunt by Crabtree thanks to good base running. The next batter, junior outfielder Jordan Cessna singled to left field to bring Kelly home and give WKU its first lead of the game.

The run proved to be the difference as WKU won its fifth straight one run game in its 14th one-run game overall.

“You just want to be aggressive,” Cessna said. “The first swing wasn’t the best, but I just stuck to my approach…I just battled and finally he made a mistake I hit a good one.

Edwards was able to pitch eight complete innings, allowing eight hits and four runs (three earned). He also struck out six and walked three, with all three coming in the first inning.

Coach Matt Myers brought on senior Taylor Haydel for the ninth inning to face the top of the order with a one run lead.

Haydel retired his first two batters before allowing a single to Collins. Myers then called upon left-handed pitcher and sophomore Austin Clay to face the lefty first baseman Trae Santos, who homered in last nights game in the ninth inning.

Saturday, however, Clay came out on top, forcing Santos to groundout to end the game.

“I just wanted to play matchup,” Myers said. “Those 2-3-4 (hitters) in their lineup are just extremely difficult and they make everything go. I wanted Collins to hit a righty and Santos to hit a lefty and then we go from there.

“Those two guys (Haydel and Clay) did a great job throwing strikes and that’s what you gotta do.”

The win marked the 34th straight victory for WKU when leading after the eighth inning.

The deciding game three will be Sunday at 1 p.m. at Nick Denes field. Senior Tim Bado will be on the mound for WKU. The Toppers are looking for their first ever back-to-back series win over the Trojans.