WKU falls to Belmont in first road game

Austin Lanter

After a good offensive showing this weekend against Central Michigan, the WKU offense struggled as the Toppers fell to Belmont 13-4 Tuesday night.

The loss marked the fourth straight loss for WKU (3-4) to the Bruins (6-2). The game was also the largest margin of victory for either team in the series history.

Freshman pitcher Jackson Sowell got off to a hot start in his first career start, striking out all three batters he faced in the first inning.

However, the second inning proved to be an entirely different story.

Belmont was able to get its first two hitters on base in the second. After that, the Bruins would send 10 more batters to the plate in the inning and score eight runs in all. After just 1.2 innings of work, coach Matt Myers pulled Sowell and replaced him with sophomore Brennan Pearson, who struck out the only batter he faced in the second to end the inning.

“When I went out to the mound I told Jackson when I took him out, ‘Jackson, man, you’re going to pitch a lot for us,’” Myers said. “I didn’t want to pull Jackson out in the second inning. I wanted him to work.”

Sowell allowed six hits and eight runs, all in the second inning, and struck out three in his Hilltopper debut. Of those eight runs, only three of them were earned due to an error by freshman infielder Thomas Peter.

“I told him I’m not worried about your results right now,” Myers said. “I hate that that’s how he started his career. He pitched a lot better than that tonight.”

Pearson was able to pitch 4.1 innings in relief, allowing four hits and two runs. Pearson was also able to record three strikeouts.

WKU did not get on the board until the seventh inning, when junior outfielder David Simmons had a pinch-hit sacrifice fly to score freshman outfielder Anderson Miller.

However, the Bruins were able to plate three more runs in the bottom half of the seventh, to extend its lead to 13-1.

The next inning, the Toppers were able to score three more runs courtesy of two RBIs from sophomore catcher Ryan Messex and one from senior designated hitter Devin Kelly.

Kelly was able to record two hits on the day, a single and a doubl,e and credited it to a good approach at the plate his first couple at bats.

Kelly was also pleased with the way the team fought today, despite the loss.

“We’re tough,” he said. “We try to stay positive all the time. We go out there and compete every inning, every pitch, and every swing.”

Freshman pitcher Alex Mercer also made his Hilltopper debut in relief of Pearson today. Mercer threw two full innings, allowed three runs, two of which were earned, two hits, and struck out five.

The pitching staff for WKU as a whole had double-digit strikeouts for the sixth time in seven games to start the season. The one time they didn’t, they recorded nine strikeouts.

“Those guys are impressive,” Kelly said about Sowell and Mercer. “Their work ethic they bring to the park every day. It’s not a drop off with these freshman. They’re ready to go when their number gets called and they give us a chance to win every time.”

Myers agreed and said that he loved both of those kids and claimed, “they’ll be big time” for the program.

The two teams will play again Wednesday afternoon in Bowling Green at 3 p.m. On Sunday Myers said he was leaning towards freshman pitcher Josh Bartley to make the start, but nothing is official as of Tuesday.