WKU baseball takes game three, series against CMU

Austin Lanter

The WKU baseball team avoided losing its second straight series to open the season with a 4-2 win over Central Michigan Sunday. The Toppers lost the first game Friday night, but was able to win the last two to improve to .500 on the year.

For the third straight game, Central Michigan (3-4) was able to get a man across home plate in the first inning. After a leadoff double by shortstop Noel Santos, there was a sacrifice bunt to move him to third and two batters later, a sacrifice fly to score him and give the Chippewas the 1-0 lead.

Santos would single and get on base again in the third inning and make it all the way around to score and extend the Central Michigan lead to 2-0.

Despite two hits in the first inning, WKU (3-3) didn’t get any runs across until the third inning. After freshman infielder Thomas Peter singled, junior infielder Scott Wilcox connected on his 100th career hit, a one-out double, and Peter scored on a CMU error.

The next batter, junior outfielder Regan Flaherty, had a sacrifice fly to score Wilcox from third and tie the game 2-2.

Junior pitcher Tanner Perkins was effective in his second start of the season after earning the win last Sunday against Bowling Green State. Perkins pitched four innings, had six strikeouts, walked two, allowed three hits, and two runs, only one of which was earned.

“It felt better today,” Perkins said, who is 10 months removed from Tommy John surgery. “The temperature went up from last weekend, but I was more worried about the guys behind me today. I didn’t feel my best but I’ve always got somebody behind me.”

WKU had a chance to take the lead in the fifth inning after a single by Flaherty. Flaherty would reach second base on a wild pitch and be thrown out at the plate to end the inning after a double by senior catcher Devin Kelly.

The Toppers would finally break through in the bottom of the seventh inning. After loading the bases with one out after a couple of CMU errors, Flaherty hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score sophomore outfielder Matthew Paculan and give WKU the 3-2 lead.

“I knew once I got to two strikes that I had to battle and put something in play and get the run in,” Flaherty said. “The last pitch was another change-up and I went down and got it and fortunately it got in play and he was able to score.”

The team would add to its lead the very next inning. After a leadoff double by senior infielder Ryan Huck, there was a sacrifice bunt to move the pinch runner Trevor Lowe to third, followed by a single from freshman outfielder Anderson Miller to bring Lowe home.

Junior pitcher Jake Thompson (1-1) was awarded with the win today after he came on in relief of Perkins. Thompson threw four innings, allowed one hit, no runs, walked one, and struck out five.

Thompson and Perkins combined to throw 11 strikeouts on the day in eight innings of work.

Sophomore pitcher Ian Tompkins came on in the ninth inning to record the save for WKU. Tompkins faced only three batters and threw 17 pitches to earn his second save of the season.

“I think we’re going to be really good,” Perkins said. “Jake and Ian came in there and filled it up at the end of the game, that’s what you want from your bullpen.”

WKU will be back in action Tuesday against Belmont at 4 p.m. in Nashville. The Toppers will send freshman pitcher Jackson Sowell to the mound for his first career start. The two teams will play in Bowling Green the next day at 3 p.m.