WKU falls 5-0 in offensive drought

Kurt Carson

The offensive inefficiency that plagued WKU last weekend against Louisiana-Lafayette carried over into its game Friday against Arkansas State.

The Toppers have managed just one run and have been shut out twice in their last three games.

WKU (13-20, 5-8 Sun Belt Conference) was shutout in a 5-0 loss to Arkansas State (20-15, 9-5) in front of 315 fans at Tomlinson Stadium in Jonesboro, Ark.

It was only the second time WKU has been shut out this season.

Right-hander Jacob Lee started on the mound for the Red Wolves and pitched brilliantly — shutting down the Toppers over the first seven frames. Lee allowed no runs on just three hits and walked three while recording five strikeouts.

WKU’s best opportunities to get on the board came in the third and fourth innings in which it stranded a combined five runners on the base paths.

The Toppers had another chance when they seemed to set themselves up for a rally once Lee exited the game and handed the ball over to right-hander Brandon Farley with a 4-0 lead.

Senior center fielder Jared Andreoli and sophomore first baseman Scott Wilcox manned the corners for WKU with no outs.

However, Farley struck out the Toppers’ next three batters to retire the side and end the threat.

Right-hander John Koch came on to pitch the ninth inning for Arkansas State and recorded the final three outs for the 5-0 victory.

WKU’s offense amounted for just five singles, a double and three walks.

The Red Wolves did most of their damage in the third and fourth innings against WKU sophomore right-hander Justin Hageman to break the ice and take an early lead.

An RBI fielder’s choice in the third inning gave Arkansas State a 1-0 lead over the Toppers.

In the fourth inning, RBI singles by shortstop Dustin Jones and center fielder Michael Faulkner stretched the Red Wolves’ edge to 3-0. Faulkner reached base in all four plate appearances with a 3-for-3 effort and one walk.

Hageman gave up one more run in the bottom of the sixth inning to give Arkansas State a 4-0 advantage. He finished his day having gone 5 2/3 innings while allowing four earned runs on eight hits and seven walks.

Sophomore left-hander Austin Clay pitched the last 2 1/3 innings for WKU and allowed the Red Wolves to tack on an eighth-inning insurance run to take a 5-0 lead.

The Toppers will look to get their offense going in game two of the weekend series against Arkansas State at 4 p.m. Saturday.