WKU can’t overcome deficit, falls to BGSU 9-8 in extras

Austin Lanter

The WKU baseball team overcame a seven-run deficit in regulation but fell to Bowling Green State 9-8 in 10 innings Friday.

The Toppers fell behind early, allowing eight runs in the first two innings. The team was down by as many as seven at one point.

Junior pitcher Justin Hageman struggled in the first opening day start of his career.  Hageman lasted only one inning – he allowed seven runs and four hits, walked five and hit another batter.

Later in the game, Hageman was also able to record an RBI in the fourth inning, staying in the batting rotation as the designated hitter.

Although Hageman struggled, his teammates are confident in his abilities going forward.

“Everybody knows what (Justin) can do,” sophomore pitcher Austin Clay said. “Hopefully the team we play next week will look at those numbers and come out here and take him for granted because he will make you rethink that in a heartbeat.”

Clay came on in relief of Hageman and after walking his first two batters, he got into a rhythm. At one point in the game Clay had retired 13 in a row for the Toppers as he pitched six complete innings for the team.

“Austin Clay is one of our most improved guys,” coach Matt Myers said. “Throwing him in the Friday slot last year gave him a lot of confidence. He came in there tonight and was not scared. He was the guy I was going to go to no matter what because he is a nice change of pace from Justin.”

After Clay, sophomore pitcher Ian Tompkins came in and picked up right where Clay left off. Clay and Tompkins combined to retire 21 batters in a row before Tompkins walked a batter in the 10th inning.

This was the first batter to reach base for the Falcons since the 3rd inning.

“We battled back great,” Wilcox said. “You can’t really say much more about the guys that came in from the bullpen. They really shut them down. Hopefully we’ll get off to a better start tomorrow.”

WKU really couldn’t get anything going until the seventh inning. Down 8-2 at this point, junior outfielder David Simmons hit a single with the bases loaded and one out. On an error, Simmons reached second base and two runs scored.

Later that inning, WKU would plate two more runs off of a fielder’s choice, making it 8-6 after seven innings of play.

The next inning, still down two, WKU got runner in scoring position and junior shortstop Scott Wilcox singled to drive two runs in to tie the game.

Neither team was able to generate anything in the ninth inning, causing the game to go into extra innings. WKU was 6-5 in extra-inning games last year and had not played in an opening day extra-inning game since 2005.

The Falcons were able to score the game-winning run on an error by Wilcox in the 10th.

WKU had a chance in the bottom half of the 10th with runners on second and third with senior first baseman Ryan Huck at the plate. Huck, however, flew out to end the game.

 “The whole game until the end I never really felt like we were going to lose that game,” Clay said. “Just the way we’ve been hitting the ball in practice and our arms are so deep. We’re going to be able to run as many guys out there as anybody we play. So we’re never going to be out of a game.”

Wilcox is confident the team can still salvage and win the series though.

“We still have a chance to win the series,” he said. “Come out tomorrow and give a good effort and get the win and come back out Sunday for the rubber match, but we’re hoping to get the win tomorrow and come out with a better effort to start. We’re pretty excited for tomorrow.”

The second game of the series is set for Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. Senior pitcher Tim Bado will make the start for the Toppers. The two teams will finish out the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. Both games will be played at Nick Denes Field.