BASEBALL: Tops win one, rain takes other

Michael Casagrande

Western was scheduled to take on Austin Peay last night, but for the second time in as many home games, the contest was washed out by spring showers.

Yesterday’s game was the second in a two-game, home and home series between the Hilltoppers and Governors.

The Toppers (17-11, 4-4 SBC) dismantled the Governors (12-16-1) of the Ohio Valley Conference 9-2 Tuesday night in Clarksville, Tenn.

“I thought we had a good approach to the game,” head coach Joel Murrie said. “We had quality pitching, very good defense and we took advantage of offensive opportunities.”

Western leads the series, spanning 133 games, 83-49-1 after the win. Last night’s game has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. April 28 at Denes Field.

Sophomore pitcher Grady Hinchman was content picking up the win against a non-conference team.

“It was nice to come back and beat a team out of conference, Hinchman said. “We usually have a tough time coming out of conference during the week.”

Coach Joel Murrie started seven freshmen against the over-matched Governors. The coach did not feel starting the freshmen would result in any drop-off in the play of his team.

“We had a quality team on the field,” Murrie said.

Murrie’s young guns did not disappoint the veteran coach. The freshmen contributed 11 of the 14 Topper hits.

Freshman catcher Matt Robinson had a breakout performance against Austin Peay, going three for five from the plate with one run batted in.

“I felt confident at the plate and I was seeing the ball pretty good,” Robinson said.

Even with Robinson’s outstanding performance, Murrie will not insert Robinson into the regular starting line-up solely based on one game.

“One good game or one bad game does not make or break you as a ballplayer,” Murrie said. “We’ll use him no differently than any other player.”

Senior Kevin Bearden is the regular starting catcher, but is hitting only .186 this season.

Murrie also pointed out that the amount of playing time “is not based on tenure.”

The Hilltoppers pitched by committee Tuesday as five pitchers spent at least one inning on the mound.

Sophomore left handed pitcher Grady Hinchman picked up his fourth win of the year to stay undefeated. Hinchman allowed one earned run and struck out five in four innings of work.

Hinchman has improved greatly after going 1-3 with a 4.38 ERA in his rookie season on the Hill.

“It’s going well,” Hinchman said. “I set myself up with tough innings, but I get myself out of trouble with 150 percent concentration with runners on.”

The Toppers will return to Sun Belt action as they travel to South Alabama (21-9, 4-2 SBC) for a three-game weekend series.

Reach Michael Casagrande at [email protected].