Bado records eight strikeouts in 2-1 WKU victory; Toppers earn first series win

Kurt Carson

WKU (4-7) defeated Kent State (5-4) 2-1 on Sunday in the teams’ series finale at Nick Denes Field.

With the victory WKU earned its first series win after dropping its first two home series.   

Junior left-hander Tim Bado started on the mound for the Toppers and allowed one run on six hits and recorded eight strikeouts over 8 1/3 innings.

The 8 1/3 innings, which came on 117 pitches, mark the longest outing for a WKU pitcher this season.

Bado kept Kent State off the board through his first seven innings.

Head Coach Matt Myers said Bado’s performance is exactly what the team needed from him.

“That’s a championship effort by Tim Bado,” Myers said. “The team really, really needed that.”

Bado’s eight strikeouts were a career-high for the junior-college transfer making his second start for the Toppers.

It was a pitcher’s duel through the first six innings of the game between Bado and Kent State starting pitcher Tyler Skulina (0.36 ERA).

Neither pitcher allowed a hit through the first two innings and kept the game scoreless through six innings.

Bado said it was a challenge knowing how solid Skulina was pitching.

“He had great stuff today,” Bado said. “I kept thinking to myself out there, ‘who’s going to break first, me or him?’ I just didn’t want to be that guy.”

Skulina wasn’t going to be the one to break either.

He finished his day working through six innings and allowing no runs on two hits while recording nine strikeouts.

However, when the Golden Flashes replaced Skulina with left-hander Michael Clark in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Toppers were able to break through.

Sophomore center-fielder David Simmons led off the inning with a single and moved over to second base on a sacrifice bunt by junior shortstop Steve Hodgins.

An ensuing walk by senior second baseman Ivan Hartle set up runners on first and second base for sophomore first baseman Scott Wilcox with just one out.

Wilcox laced a line drive down the left-field line to break through on the scoreboard and give the Toppers a 1-0 lead.

Wilcox said he was thankful that the batters in front of him got on base to give him the opportunity.

“We were trying to get some good hits and the guys did a great job getting on base,” Wilcox said. “I was just in the right situation at the right time.”

Myers said Wilcox’s hit was huge in giving the team the lead and allowing Bado to have a little bit of a cushion to work with on the mound.

“You don’t get many opportunities against a good pitching staff,” Myers said. “He went the other way and that’s where Scott’s really good. It was big because it rewarded what we were doing defensively and on the mound.”

Hartle also eventually came around to score in the bottom of the seventh inning on an error by Kent State shortstop Jimmy Rider that put WKU up 2-0.

Bado allowed Kent State to get on the board in the top of the eighth inning when he gave up a leadoff double to right-fielder Troy Summers who stole third base and crossed the plate on an RBI groundout by left-fielder Joe Koch.

However, he escaped the inning with the 2-1 lead intact.

Bado came back out on the mound in the ninth inning to attempt a complete game but gave up a double with one out that forced Myers to call on junior right-hander Taylor Haydel to finish off the game and try for his first save of the season.

Haydel recorded two consecutive outs with the help of solid defensive play that earned him the save and the Toppers a 2-1 victory.

WKU will be back in action at 6 p.m. on Wednesday against Evansville at Nick Denes Field.

Myers said he hopes the team’s first series win will give them the motivation to turn things around from here on out.

“This could be a series that we look back on and say ‘that’s where we took off,'” Myers said.