Toppers lose 5-4 to EKU in 11 innings

Brad Stephens

A wild pitch from Phil Wetherell allowed Eastern Kentucky designated hitter Alex Arovits to score the winning run Wednesday in a 5-4, 11-inning WKU loss.

WKU (27-18) has now lost five of its last seven games and has lost its last three games against the Colonels in Richmond.

Arovits led off the 11th with a first-pitch single to center field and then advanced to second on a groundout from Colonel shortstop Dustin Dunlop.

Following a strikeout and hit batsman, Arovits moved to third when junior Topper shortstop Logan Robbins booted what looked to be an inning-ending double-play ball.

He then scampered home when Wetherell’s first offering to left fielder Jacob Daniel got by senior catcher Matt Rice and glanced off the backstop.

Rice was originally slated to be a designated hitter Wednesday, and sophomore Ryan Huck was scheduled to catch.

But Huck underwent an emergency appendectomy early Wednesday morning, causing him to miss the game.

Huck will also miss WKU’s upcoming Sun Belt Conference home series with Florida Atlantic.

Freshman Justin Hageman filled in with DH duties, going 0-for-4.

WKU was first to break on the scoreboard Wednesday, as junior center fielder Kes Carter scored on a second-inning, ground-ball double play off the bat of Robbins.

That was the first of three double plays Robbins produced in the game.

EKU answered for a run in the bottom of the second thanks to an RBI single from Colonel center fielder Austin Grisham off Topper starter Taylor Haydel.

EKU made the score 3-1 in the third with a run-scoring single from third baseman Bryan Soloman and an RBI foul-out from right fielder Michael Garcia.

The sophomore right-hander Haydel lasted three innings, giving up five hits, a walk and three runs while striking out three. He didn’t factor in the decision.

The score remained 3-1 until a two-run WKU rally in the sixth inning.

Following a walk of the starting third baseman, freshman Scott Wilcox, Rice hit an RBI triple to deep right field.

Rice then scored when Carter hit an RBI double to right field, the last of his three hits for the day.

Meanwhile the Colonel lineup was held in check by junior right-hander Rye Davis, who pitched three scoreless innings for WKU.

The Toppers took their second lead of the day in the eighth inning, when freshman pinch runner Jordan Cessna scored from third on a wild pitch thrown by EKU reliever Matt Fyffe, making the score 4-3.

But junior right-hander Ross Hammonds, who pitched scoreless seventh and eighth innings, couldn’t hold the lead in the ninth.

Arovits scored on an RBI single from pinch hitter Ryan Faidely, tying the game at 4-4.

The run was unearned, because junior third baseman Casey Dykes botched a ground ball earlier in the inning that could’ve resulted in a force out of Arovits at second.

Wetherell entered with one out in the ninth and the bases loaded, getting out of the jam with a foul pop-out and a strikeout.

Neither team scored in extra innings until the wild pitch in the bottom of the 11th.

Wetherell took the loss, going to 0-3 on the year.

Wednesday’s loss marked the ninth time in the Toppers’ last 23 games that WKU lost after being tied or leading entering the seventh inning.

The Toppers will next play Friday at 6 p.m. at Nick Denes Field against FAU.

Sophomore left-hander Tanner Perkins (6-2, 2.07 ERA) will start for the Toppers.