WKU salvages series finale in 6-1 win

Kurt Carson

Coming into the day in a three-way tie for last place in the Sun Belt Conference, the last thing WKU needed was to allow Florida Atlantic to finish off a sweep after winning the first two games of a weekend series.

But sophomore right-hander Justin Hageman stepped up on the mound for the Toppers after he was pushed back to Sunday’s start by Head Coach Matt Myers.

Hageman’s solid start held off the Owls as WKU (20-28, 10-14 Sun Belt Conference) defeated FAU (28-18, 16-6) by a score of 6-1 in Boca Raton, Fla.

“I gave Justin two nights to look at hitters,” Myers told WKU’s Big Red Radio Network. “We were able to come in and have a really good plan as to where we were going.”

Hageman allowed just one earned run on five hits in 7 2/3 innings of work.

The Owls’ lone run came in the bottom of the fifth inning on an RBI single by designated hitter Robert Buckley.

“It was good to see him back out there today and when he throws like that he’s pretty much unstoppable,” sophomore shortstop Scott Wilcox said.

While Hageman shut down FAU’s offense, Wilcox and the Toppers’ lineup got out to an early and comfortable lead.

With no score in the top of the third inning and runners on first and second base, Wilcox singled to load the bases with just one out.

Wilcox led the Toppers’ offense with a 3-for-5 effort and two RBIs.

Senior third baseman Casey Dykes then reached on an error by shortstop Mitch Morales and junior second baseman Blake Crabtree came in to score to give WKU a 1-0 lead.

After senior right fielder Ryan Hutchison lined out for the second out in the inning, junior designated hitter Devin Kelly singled to plate two more runs and stretch the Toppers edge to 3-0.

WKU added another run in the top of the fourth inning on a two-out RBI ground-rule double by Wilcox that made it 4-0.

Myers said the two-out hits were an impressive and common theme for the Toppers in the series finale.

“Big two-out hits,” Myers said. “We hit some balls today that were absolutely murdered. We had some really good swings.”

WKU scored an insurance run in each of the sixth and seventh innings to stretch its lead to 6-1 over the Owls and give Hageman enough room to assume control on the mound.

The Toppers will be back in action this coming weekend when they head to Mobile Ala. to take on South Alabama, with the first game set for 6:30 p.m. Friday.