WKU resilient after rough weekend

Sophomore infielder Scott Wilcox attempts to tag out a runner stealing second Saturday at Nick Denes Field. WKU beat Louisiana-Monroe 7-6 but lost the other two games in the weekend series.

Kurt Carson

WKU came into its series against Louisiana-Monroe needing a series victory to keep above the bottom of the pack in the Sun Belt Conference standings.

ULM was the last team the Toppers will face this season that’s currently ranked below them in the standings.

But WKU (18-26, 9-12 Sun Belt Conference) dropped two out of three against the Warhawks to finish the weekend in a three-way tie with ULM and Arkansas-Little Rock in slots six through eight in the standings.

“Our kids played really hard,” Head Coach Matt Myers said. “We were right there and grinded it out for two days. Outside of one inning on Friday, we played really tough.”

That inning was a nine-run explosion by the Warhawks that set the momentum in their favor on the way to a 14-6 win in game one of the series.

But WKU didn’t let ULM carry its momentum into Saturday’s game.

Trailing 6-3 in the sixth inning, the Toppers slowly crept back into the game before earning a walk-off victory in 11 innings to even the series.

Myers said he can’t express how proud he is for his players to maintain their “never-die attitude.”

“It shows the resiliency and toughness in our kids,” Myers said. “I’m proud of those kids. They’re going to be rewarded for it.”

WKU continued proving its resiliency in Sunday’s rubber match by tying the game late to send the game into extra innings despite falling 7-6 in the 12th inning.

Senior right fielder Ryan Hutchison, who was named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week Monday, said the Toppers simply have to move on from the series loss.

“It hurts, but we can take good things from this weekend,” Hutchison said.

Myers said despite falling short, one of the “good things” his team can take away is their fight.

“That’s the game of baseball,” Myers said. “It doesn’t go your way sometimes, but I can’t be mad at our guys with the way they’re competing and their heart.

“If they continue doing that, they’ll be fine getting into that tournament.”

That’s the ultimate goal for the Toppers, who currently sit tied for sixth place in the standings.

However, they’re just one game ahead of Troy and Louisiana-Lafayette — the ninth- and tenth-place teams in the Sun Belt.

That’s one of the reasons it’s important for WKU to have a short-term memory of the weekend — they’re on the border of missing the tournament.

“We got to work to get in the tournament,” senior right-hander Ross Hammonds said. “It doesn’t matter what seed we’re at as long as we get in. An eight seed won it last year, so we can do the same thing.”