WKU tops VMI 13-4

Austin Lanter

The WKU baseball team scored nine runs in the sixth and seventh innings combined to beat Virginia Military Institute 13-5 Friday in the first game between the two schools.

Before scoring three runs in the sixth inning and six in the seventh, the Toppers were clinging to just a one run lead.

The Toppers were able to score 13 runs Friday on 13 hits Friday and only committed one error to VMI’s three. Of those 13 runs by WKU, only four of them were earned.

Junior Tanner Perkins got the nod at pitcher and allowed a leadoff double to Jordan Tarsovich of VMI, who would cross home plate a few batters later and give VMI the 1-0 lead. Perkins would get out of the inning without allowing any more runs. 

However, freshman infielder Thomas Peter would start the bottom half of the frame with a leadoff double of his own. Later in the inning, sophomore catcher Ryan Messex hit a two-out double that scored two runs and gave WKU a 2-1 lead after one inning. 

Messex had a chance to increase the Hilltopper lead the very next inning, coming to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. However, Messex grounded out and Keydet pitcher Reed Garrett got out of the inning despite allowing one hit and walking two.

Neither team was able to generate anything in the second or third inning and then in the fourth VMI was able to connect on a home run off of Perkins to tie the game. 

The Toppers broke the tie in the bottom half of the frame, though.

Freshman outfielder Trevor Lowe hit a double to begin the inning. The next batter, Peter, was able to record an RBI to put WKU back in front 3-2. 

In the fifth inning the Keydets were able to tie the game once again on a sacrifice fly after Perkins walked the leadoff man and then balked him to second. 

In the sixth, after 5.1 innings of work, Perkins was relieved by junior pitcher Justin Hageman, who made his first appearance since starting on opening day. With a runner of third, Hageman threw a wild pitch to score the runner and give the Keydets a 4-3 lead. 

Hageman only recorded one out before being replaced by sophomore Austin Clay. Clay allowed a double to the very first batter he faced, which would score another run and double the VMI lead. 

WKU loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth inning and junior infielder Scott Wilcox was able to single down the right side of the field and bring in two runs to tie the game once more.

Right after Wilcox, junior outfielder Regan Flaherty brought home another run with a groundout RBI as the Toppers retook the lead 6-5.

WKU would extend its lead, scoring five runs in the seventh inning, including an RBI by Wilcox and two by Flaherty, giving him three on the day.

Wilcox also had three RBIs on the day and was also able to record four hits in five plate appearances.

In the eighth, Lowe was able to plate another run for the Toppers with a two-out single to right field. The run extended the WKU lead to 13-5, the eventual final score.

The WKU pitching staff struck out 11 batters on the day and marks the ninth time in 12 games the staff has struck out at least 10. According to NCAA statistics released Tuesday, WKU leads the nation in strikeouts per nine innings. 

WKU (5-7) and VMI (5-9) will play game two of the series Saturday at 2 p.m. and game three on Sunday at 1 p.m. Junior Andrew Edwards and senior Tim Bado will take the mound for the Toppers Saturday and Sunday, respectively.