BASEBALL: Western wins series against Ohio

Amber North

Ohio University seemed like a tough opponent on paper. The Bobcats are projected to win the Mid-American Conference and hold the conference’s Preseason Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year candidates.

But the Hilltoppers were too distracted by the familiar “ping” sound to concentrate on that.

Western won the three-game series 2-1 (9-11, 5-2, 16-4) last weekend at Nick Denes Field. The 16 runs scored on Sunday were the most the Toppers had had since smacking 17 runs against Eastern Kentucky in 2001.

“I’m pleased with the way we came out losing Friday and to come back and play with a lot of confidence in the final two games,” coach Joel Murrie said. “To win against a team that I anticipate to be NCAA participants shows a lot about our ball club.”

The Hilltoppers (3-4) led Friday’s game 5-4, but in the seventh and eighth innings Ohio (1-3) rallied to score seven runs to make it 11-5.

Western came back with four runs, but fell short in the ninth when junior first baseman Marcus Ross flew out to center with two left on base.

The Tops were dominant in the rest of the series.

Junior Daniel Faulkner (1-1) pitched 7.1 innings and struck out seven. Junior left fielder Antone Towns drilled his first home run of the season with a three-run bomb in the fifth to cushion Western’s victory.

“We didn’t do well Friday, but on Saturday we came out and things were better – better team effort defensively and offensively,” senior right fielder Matt Gunning said.

Sophomore third baseman Tim Grogan has been one of the key players in the offense this early season with a .391 batting average. In Sunday’s win he hit 3-for-3 with three RBI.

“I still have plenty to work on, but I’m getting more and more comfortable as we go in the season,” Grogan said.

After scoring one run in the first inning, the Toppers went on a spree in the third and fourth innings, scoring a combined 13 runs.

Junior J.C. Faircloth got his first win of the season after throwing five innings while allowing three hits and no runs.

Next up for Western is the Mississippi State Challenge at 11 a.m. Friday against Illinois.

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