Toppers beat EKU in final non-conference game

Kurt Carson

WKU’s game against Eastern Kentucky had little meaning to the fate of the Toppers postseason hopes.

The Toppers would currently miss the Sun Belt Conference Tournament but have a crucial three-game series with Middle Tennessee State beginning on Thursday at 6 p.m. that could alter that path.

WKU (22-30) hopes it can use Tuesday night’s 11-7 victory over EKU (28-21) to build momentum as it continues its final home stand.

“I saw something tonight that excites me,” Head Coach Matt Myers said. “It was a really good offensive night tonight for us. I’m excited with the offensive approach.”

The main reason the Toppers beat the Colonels was due to an eight-run offensive explosion in the second inning.

After EKU had taken a 2-0 lead in the top half of the second inning, junior first baseman Ryan Huck led off the bottom half with a walk and sophomore left fielder David Simmons singled on what was intended to be a sacrifice bunt.

After freshman catcher Ryan Messex moved the runners over on a sacrifice bunt, Huck came in to score the Toppers’ first run on a wild pitch that cut the Colonels’ lead to 2-1.

Junior designated hitter Blake Crabtree proceeded to single on a line drive up the middle that brought in another run and tied the game at 2-2.

With the bases loaded and just one out, sophomore shortstop Scott Wilcox was hit by a pitch and senior center fielder Jared Andreoli scored on a wild pitch to make it a 4-2 WKU advantage.

Senior right fielder Ryan Hutchison lifted a sacrifice fly to right field and senior third baseman Casey Dykes laced an RBI double down the left-field line to stretch the Toppers lead to 6-2 in the bottom of the second inning.

However, WKU wasn’t quite done.

Huck and Simmons – who had led off the inning – each picked up RBI singles to cap off the eight-run inning and give WKU a comfortable 8-2 edge over the Colonels.

“We just hit fastballs,” Simmons said. “When they give you a fastball in a good area you have to hit it. If you hit it well enough it’ll find a hole.”

Simmons led WKU’s offense with a 3-for-5 effort and two RBIs while Huck finished with two hits and scored three times.

Junior right-hander Colton Satterlee started on the mound for the Toppers and didn’t find much success against EKU’s offense.

The Colonels jumped to a 2-0 lead on a two-RBI triple off the bat of shortstop Richie Rodriguez in the top of the second inning.

Even after WKU had given Satterlee an 8-2 lead, he allowed three more runs in the top of the third inning on a two-RBI single by designated hitter Shaun Ball and an error by Dykes that cut the Toppers’ lead to 8-5.

But WKU brought in freshman right-hander Brennan Pearson to clean up the third inning and he pitched effectively over the next 4 1/3 innings while allowing no runs on no hits.

“It took me a while to fill up the zone but I settled down, hit my spots and it made it a lot easier,” Pearson said.

While Pearson shut down the Colonels’ lineup, WKU tacked on insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Simmons recorded another RBI single and two more runs came across the plate in the inning to stretch the Toppers’ lead to 11-5.

EKU would add a run in each of the eighth and ninth innings but it ultimately was not enough as WKU claimed the 11-7 victory.

The Toppers will take the field for their final conference series against rival MTSU on Thursday at 6 p.m.