Notebook: Perkins the latest WKU starter to go down

Freshman pitcher Brennan Pearson throws against Western Illinois University on Sunday at Nick Denes Field.

Kurt Carson

The Toppers can’t seem to escape the injury bug, especially within the starting rotation.

All three weekend starters have been injured at one point in the season.

Junior left-hander Tanner Perkins was the most recent victim as he left Friday’s start against Western Illinois after just 2 1/3 innings with tightness in his forearm.

WKU Head Coach Matt Myers said he thinks Perkins will be “OK,” but he didn’t want to risk anything with Sun Belt Conference starting this Friday night.

Perkins, the team’s No. 1 starter, came into the weekend with a 3.15 ERA while striking out 10 batters in 20 innings of work.

Myers said although injuries have hindered the Toppers from reaching their full potential, he will not use them as an excuse.

“It’s been tough, but everybody has adversity, so you have to overcome it,” Myers said. “We have other guys in the program that are good enough to win.”

Both of the Toppers’ other two weekend starters — sophomore right-hander Justin Hageman and junior left-hander Tim Bado — began the year with injuries that forced them to miss the opening series against Toledo.

Hageman and Bado made their starting debuts the ensuing weekend against Southern Illinois and have since started every weekend.

Wilcox, Hartle carrying offense

Sophomore first baseman Scott Wilcox and senior second baseman Ivan Hartle have carried much of the weight within the lineup for WKU.

Wilcox has had at least one hit in 14 of the Toppers’ 15 games this season and is batting .352 after posting a .274 batting average last year.

He said his main strategy in his approach to the plate is to do whatever’s best for the team at the time.

“The situation depicts how I approach the at-bat,” Wilcox said. “Mostly I just try to get on base.”

Both Wilcox and Hartle have been particularly good at drawing walks to get on base.

Wilcox has drawn 16 walks while Hartle has drawn 12.

Hartle had his biggest day at the plate in a 4-for-5 effort against Toledo on February 18 in a game in which he accumulated two doubles and two RBIs.

Both players have had five multi-hit games so far this season.

Defense not up to par

Coming into the season, Myers said defense would be one of WKU’s key strengths.

However, the Toppers have been charged with at least one error in 12 of their 15 games so far this season.

The team was charged with four errors against Evansville on March 7, their highest total in a game this year.

Myers said he’s disappointed that the defense has been lacking.

“We’re not very good on defense,” Myers said. “We’re hesitant and afraid to be aggressive. It’s disappointing, because our defense is creating some big innings for our opponents.”