WKU gets revenge in 8-1 win over Louisville

Junior first baseman Ryan Huck slides into home plate in the bottom of the second inning to score a run Tuesday night at Bowling Green Ballpark. WKU beat the No. 18 Louisville 8-1.

Kurt Carson

WKU was tied 2-2 with Louisville on April 3 before falling 9-2.

The Toppers faced a similar situation Tuesday night in a 1-1 tie going in to the sixth inning against the Cardinals.

But this time it was WKU (19-26) that broke through for seven combined runs in the sixth and seventh innings to defeat Louisville (31-14) 8-1 in front of 2,323 fans at Bowling Green Ballpark.

The Toppers have always seen increased run production when playing at Bowling Green Ballpark. They outscored their opponents 50-21 over three games at the home of the Bowling Green Hot Rods in 2010 and 2011.

WKU got that same kind of production Tuesday when it busted out for four runs in the sixth inning and three runs in the seventh inning.

“This place is magical for us right now,” head coach Matt Myers said. “This community has come out and supported us so well over the last three years.”

In a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the sixth inning, senior center fielder Jared Andreoli led off with a walk and reached second base on an error by first baseman Stewart Ijames.

Sophomore second baseman Scott Wilcox then came through with an RBI single to left field that plated Andreoli and put WKU up 2-1.

Senior third baseman Casey Dykes recorded an RBI single of his own that brought Wilcox around to score and added to the Toppers lead at 3-1.

With one out in the inning, junior shortstop Steve Hodgins capped off the four-run inning by lacing a two-RBI single down the right-field line to give WKU a 5-1 lead.

The Toppers added three more runs in the seventh inning to expand their lead over the Cardinals even further.

The first two runs in the inning came on back-to-back RBI doubles by Dykes and senior right fielder Ryan Hutchison to put the Toppers in front 7-1.

WKU added another run to make it a 8-1 lead on a single by Hodgins, his third RBI of the game.

The lead was comfortable enough for the Toppers to earn the victory and get revenge in their rematch against the Cardinals.

“We had a great approach tonight,” Myers said. “We took advantage of runners in scoring position the entire way through the lineup.”

The starting pitchers from both teams had solid outings.

Right-hander Chad Green started for the Cardinals and threw five innings while allowing just one run — none earned — on three hits.

However, the Toppers got to Green and were the first to get on the board in the bottom of the second inning.

With junior first baseman Ryan Huck on first base, freshman Ryan Messex doubled on a line drive to left field that moved Huck over to third base.

But Louisville left fielder Jeff Gardner bobbled the ball in left field and Huck came around to score on the play to give the Toppers a 1-0 advantage.

The Cardinals answered with a run of their own in the top of the third inning, tying the game at 1-1 on a sacrifice fly by center fielder Cole Sturgeon.

However that was the lone run Louisville would get off of starting freshman left-hander Ian Tompkins.

Tompkins allowed just one earned run on four hits in six innings pitched.

“I just tried to give my team a chance by throwing strikes,” Tompkins said. “I had a few walks but I didn’t let it get to me as I have in the past.”

But it wasn’t just Tompkins that helped keep the Cardinals off the board.

Messex threw out three Louisville base runners from behind the plate — two pickoffs and one caught stealing.

“We knew that they liked to run,” Messex said. “When I get in there I like to shut that down.”

His two pickoffs came in the top of the fifth inning when Tompkins had gotten himself in a tough jam.

Tompkins allowed back-to-back singles to lead off the inning in a tie game at 1-1.

But Messex picked off both base runners and Tompkins struck out one to escape the inning and keep the game tied until WKU would break through with seven runs in two innings.

The Toppers will be back in action this weekend as they head to Florida Atlantic and begin a three-game series at 5 p.m. on Friday.