Toppers host Louisville Tuesday at Bowling Green Ballpark

Brad Stephens

A hot Sun Belt Conference start has given way to a midseason lull for WKU.

The Toppers started 5-0 in league play but have since dropped three of their last four conference games, and five of their last six games overall.

WKU’s most recent struggles came in a conference road series against Arkansas-Little Rock last weekend.

The Toppers (17-11, 6-3 Sun Belt) won the series opener Friday 14-3 behind a five-RBI performance form senior designated hitter Chris Bullard and seven shutout innings from sophomore left-handed starter Tanner Perkins.

But WKU lost Saturday’s game, 8-2, after junior reliever Ross Hammonds gave up four runs in the seventh.

The Toppers also left 12 runners on base in the game.

“Unfortunately we just couldn’t get any big hits today,” Head Coach Chris Finwood told WKU’s Big Red Radio Saturday. “That’s just baseball. We got a bunch of them last night but didn’t get any of them today.”

Sunday’s rubber match got off to a rough start for the Toppers, as UALR hit senior pitcher Brian Edelen for four first-inning runs.

The Toppers spent the rest of the day trying to play catch-up, and although senior catcher Matt Rice hit two home runs, WKU still fell 11-6.

Rice said there were both positives and negatives to take from the weekend road trip.

“Tanner gave us a phenomenal Friday start, and we swung the bat really well that night,” Rice said. “But unfortunately we didn’t swing the bat well or throw well Saturday and Sunday.”

The Toppers will now turn their attention to a two-week stretch that will see them play nine of their next 10 games at home.

The first of these will be a rematch with No. 23 Louisville tonight at 6 p.m. at Bowling Green Ballpark, home of the Bowling Green Hot Rods.

Louisville beat WKU last Tuesday, 3-1, at Jim Patterson Stadium in Louisville.

Tonight’s game will be the first for WKU at Bowling Green Ballpark since the Toppers issued a 24-8 beating to Kentucky there last April.

That game featured a 16-run second inning and was seen by 6,183 fans, the largest crowd to ever watch a college baseball game in Kentucky.

The Herald confirmed Monday through Lindsay Thomas, WKU’s assistant athletic director of marketing, that all WKU students can get into the Bowling Green Ballpark free tonight with a WKU ID card.

Rice said his team is ready to get back on the field where WKU achieved such a big win over Kentucky last season.

“Last time we played here, the atmosphere was unbelievable,” Rice said. “It’s like playing at home, and the guys won’t need extra motivation since we’re playing Louisville.”