Toppers swept at Troy with 12-9 loss Sunday

Zach Greenwell

WKU had plenty of offense firepower in its series finale at Troy Sunday.

But as has been the case several times lately, the Toppers’ pitching was underwhelming.

WKU (25-16, 10-8 Sun Belt Conference) erased a deficit three times on Sunday, but the Trojans eventually threw a knockout, three-run blow in the bottom of the eighth inning, winning 12-9 at Riddle-Pace Field.

The victory completed a weekend sweep for Troy (30-10, 14-4 Sun Belt), which distanced its lead in the conference.

Meanwhile, the Toppers fell into a three-way tie for third place in league play, while Florida Atlantic slid into second.

“I’m really proud of our guys for not giving in and continuing to fight,” Head Coach Chris Finwood told WKU’s Big Red Radio after the game. “We’re just really soft on the mound right now, and we’ve got to get that straightened out.”

The Topper pitching staff did indeed have a rough day. Senior starter Brian Edelen surrendered four earned runs on six hits in 4 and 2/3 innings of work and didn’t factor into the decision.

The runs surrendered by Edelen put WKU behind early, and the Toppers trailed 6-3 after five innings.

The Toppers scored five runs in the sixth, reclaiming an 8-6 advantage, but relievers Rye Davis and Phil Wetherell weren’t able to close the door.

“I guess we’ve just got to leave (Edelen) in there because the guys we’re bringing in aren’t getting it done,” Finwood said. “Brian’s going out there and competing for us. I’m proud of him.”

Davis walked three and gave up two hits and two runs before he could even record an out, and Wetherell got shelled for eight hits and six runs — four earned — in 3 and 1/3 innings.

The most crucial runs given up by Wetherell were Troy’s final three in the eighth, which broke a 9-9 tie and handed Wetherell the loss.

The Toppers’ struggling pitching spoiled some solid days at the plate. Junior left fielder Jared Andreoli and sophomore first baseman Ryan Huck each had three RBIs, and junior third baseman Casey Dykes went 3-for-4 with two RBIs.

WKU returns home Tuesday to host No. 3 Vanderbilt at 6 p.m. at Nick Denes Field. The Toppers lost a 6-5 decision to the Commodores in Nashville earlier this season.

WKU typically doesn’t throw any of its weekend starters for midweek games, and Finwood said Sunday that the rough weekend at Troy has left the bullpen depleted.

He said he’s not sure who will get the ball on Tuesday, but that someone needs to step up.

“We just want somebody with some guts to run out there and be able to throw something other than a fastball in the strike zone,” Finwood said. “Our guys have really struggled throwing their offspeed pitches — the bullpen guys especially. That’s going to get you in trouble.”