Tops squander opportunities, fall 11-1

Kurt Carson

WKU had plenty of opportunities to produce big innings by driving in runs on Sunday.

Instead the Toppers stranded a total of 15 base runners, with nine of them left in scoring position.

The inability for WKU (6-9) to take advantage of scoring opportunities led to an 11-1 loss to Western Illinois (5-8) in the teams’ series finale at Nick Denes Field.

Head Coach Matt Myers said you simply “can’t win games when you don’t score.”

“If I’m an offensive guy on the team right now I’d really be embarrassed,” Myers said.

Just a day after coming back from a 4-0 deficit for a victory over Western Illinois, WKU saw itself in a similar position on Sunday, down 4-0 with the bases loaded in the sixth inning.

Sophomore third baseman Jordan Cessna led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a single.

Junior shortstop Steve Hodgins drew a walk and sophomore center fielder David Simmons was hit by a pitch to load the bases for senior second baseman Ivan Hartle with just one out.

However Hartle grounded right into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning and keep the 4-0 Leatherneck lead intact.

The Toppers produced another big opportunity in the bottom of the seventh inning when they loaded the bases again, this time for senior pinch-hitter Jared Andreoli with two outs.

But Andreoli fell to the same fate as Hartle as he grounded out to end the inning and any threat of a comeback.

Junior left-hander Tim Bado started on the mound for WKU and pitched effectively for five innings, allowing just one earned run on five hits while striking out seven.

Bado ran into trouble in the fourth inning when, with the help of an error by Hodgins, Western Illinois plated three runs and took a 3-0 lead.

“It felt good but I’m a little disappointed,” Bado said of his performance. “I didn’t have fastball command and I was leaving my changeup up.”

However Myers said he thought Bado “pitched good enough” for a win.

The Leathernecks pounded out seven runs in the top of the seventh inning to dispense of any hopes WKU had of a comeback.

Two errors and two wild pitches kept the inning going and made things comfortable for Western Illinois on the way to a 11-1 win.

Sophomore first baseman Scott Wilcox said they had their opportunities and that it just wasn’t their day.

“We had a couple of chances to put ourselves back in the game,” Wilcox said. “We’ve shown all year that we never give up but today was one of those days where plays in the field cost us.”

WKU will look to regroup on Tuesday as they face Butler at 3 p.m. at Nick Denes Field just days before they open Sun Belt Conference play with a weekend series at Middle Tennessee.

“Hopefully we can regroup and move forward from here,” Wilcox said.