WKU falls to FAU 6-5 in the 10th

Kurt Carson

Coming in to Friday night WKU had gone to extra innings in four of its last six games and went 2-2 in those meetings.

Game One of the Toppers matchup against Florida Atlantic fell to the same fate, as it took 10 innings to decide the victor.

However, FAU (26-17, 15-5 Sun Belt Conference) was able to come through in extras to defeat WKU (19-27, 9-13) 6-5 in Boca Raton, Fla.

The Owls used some two-out magic to win the series opener in walk-off fashion.

Junior right-hander Taylor Haydel had thrown three scoreless innings and came in to pitch the 10th inning for the Toppers.

Haydel recorded the first two outs in the inning before issuing a two-out walk to designated hitter Alex Hudak.

FAU center fielder Geoff Jimenez proceeded to single to put Hudak in scoring position at second base with catcher Mike Spano coming to the plate.

Down 0-2 in the count, Spano singled on a line drive to left field and Hudak came around to score to give the Owls a 6-5 victory over WKU.

“We were trying to go hard and in,” head coach Matt Myers told WKU’s Big Red Radio Network. “We got a ball up and away and he was able to poke it in there.”

The Toppers got out to an early 3-0 lead over FAU through the first 1 1/2 innings.

WKU got one run in the top of the first inning on an RBI groundout by senior right fielder Ryan Hutchison.

The Toppers added two more runs in the second inning on a two-run shot by junior shortstop Steve Hodgins. The home run was Hodgins’ first of the season.

But starting sophomore left-hander Austin Clay gave up the Toppers lead in the bottom of the second inning.

“The second inning was really the only hiccup,” Myers said.

FAU broke out for three runs to tie the game at 3-3 on back-to-back-to-back RBI singles by Jimenez, Spano and shortstop Mitch Morales.

However, WKU regained the lead at 4-3 in the top of the third inning on a sacrifice fly by junior first baseman Ryan Huck.

Clay gave up the lead again in the bottom of the fifth inning when first baseman Mark Nelson hit a two-RBI single that gave the Owls a 5-4 advantage.

Clay finished his day giving up five runs — four earned — on seven hits in six innings.

“It wasn’t really pretty sometimes because he pitches to contact but he gave us a chance,” Myers said.

With WKU trailing 5-4 heading in to the top of the eighth inning, Hutchison hit the Toppers’ second homer of the game on a solo shot to right-center field that tied the game at 6-6.

Haydel came on in relief of Clay and pitched 3 2/3 innings while allowing just one run, but it came as a walk-off run to give FAU a victory in game one of the series.

WKU will attempt to even the series Saturday against FAU at 3 p.m. when junior left-hander Tim Bado takes the mound.