Hutchison’s grand slam powers WKU over MTSU

Kurt Carson

Head Coach Matt Myers had stressed how important it was to get off to a hot start in Sun Belt Conference play.

Senior right fielder Ryan Hutchison’s 2-for-4 effort and first home run of the season — a grand slam — helped the Toppers get off to the kind of start Myers had hoped they would.

WKU (8-9) used a six-run sixth inning to defeat league rival Middle Tennessee State (10-8) by a score of 9-2 in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Trailing 1-0 in the sixth, junior designated hitter Blake Crabtree singled and moved junior shortstop Steve Hodgins to third base. Hodgins scored on the play thanks to an error by MTSU right fielder Trent Miller to tie it up.

WKU scored another run to take a 2-1 lead on a wild pitch that allowed Crabtree to cross the plate.

The Toppers proceeded to load the bases for Hutchison, who drilled a 2-1 pitch to right field for a grand slam. The home run was Hutchison’s first of the season and WKU’s first long ball since March 3.

It also gave WKU a comfortable 6-1 lead over the Blue Raiders who had shut out the Toppers for the first five innings.

Senior second baseman Ivan Hartle, Crabtree and Hutchison all finished the game with two hits apiece.

The Blue Raiders scored a run in the second inning off WKU starting right-hander Justin Hageman on an RBI groundout by junior left fielder Dalton Henzman to take a 1-0 lead.

However, MTSU had the bases loaded in the inning with no outs and Hageman allowed just the lone run.

Hageman finished having pitched 6 1/3 innings while allowing two earned runs on eight hits and recording six strikeouts.

MTSU starting right-hander Hunter Adkins cruised through his first five frames before running in to trouble in the sixth inning.

Though the Blue Raiders tacked on a run in the bottom of the seventh inning to cut WKU’s lead to 6-2, the Toppers continued to add insurance runs in the latter innings to maintain a solid lead.

An RBI single by sophomore first baseman Scott Wilcox in the eighth inning gave WKU a 7-2 lead.

The Toppers used an RBI double by senior center-fielder Jared Andreoli and an RBI single by Crabtree in the ninth inning to make it a 9-2 WKU advantage.

Senior right-hander Ross Hammonds took over after Hageman’s exit from the mound and shut out the Blue Raiders over 2 2/3 innings while allowing just two hits.

MTSU accounted for a total of 10 hits but could only manufacture two runs.

WKU will look to continue the way it performed in game one of the series when it takes on the Blue Raiders in game two at 4 p.m. on Saturday in Murfreesboro. Freshman left-hander Ian Tompkins will be on the mound for the Toppers.