WKU Baseball loses both games of its first doubleheader of the season


Allie Hendricks

WKU junior infielder Tristin Garcia runs to home plate after hitting a triple and scoring off a throwing error, scoring the first run of the game against Western Illinois University at Nick Denes field on Feb. 20, 2022.

Camden Bush, Baseball Reporter

WKU (2-4) had a tough day at Nick Denes Field, losing both games of a doubleheader against Central Michigan (3-3) Saturday afternoon.

WKU’s pitching staff pitched well enough to keep the team in both games, but the team just couldn’t get anything going offensively. 

“I thought they pitched very well.” WKU head coach John Pawlowski said. “They pitched us very tough. We weren’t able to get any kind of momentum going and hitting is so contagious. We just were looking for that one big moment, that one big hit. Unfortunately, we just weren’t able to get that today.”

WKU junior Tristin Garcia was one of very few consistent bright spots throughout the day. Garcia did not record an out on the day, going 3-for-3 with two walks. 

“I’m just doing my best to put the team in a good position to win, to score me and score people on bases,” Garcia said. “At the end of the day, [I] just put together good at bats and good things happen.”

Game 1

Central Michigan defeated WKU in the first game of the doubleheader 7-4.

WKU senior Sean Bergeron went five innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and striking out four. Bergeron was bested by Central Michigan’s sophomore Andrew Taylor who went six innings allowing four runs, three of which were earned, on seven hits and six strikeouts. 

Senior Mario Camilletti and sophomore Colton Coca led the Chippewas to victory in the first game. Camilletti went 2-for-4 while Coca went 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Freshman Ty Batusich and junior Jackson Gray led the way for the Hilltoppers as each had a home run. 

Bergeron retired junior Justin Simpson to kick off the game before allowing a single to Camilletti. Coca followed with a single of his own before WKU freshman third baseman Brett Blomquist made a nice sliding play to end the top of the first. 

Taylor retired the first two he faced in the bottom of the first before allowing a home run to deep right field by Batusich, giving the Hilltoppers an early 1-0 lead. Taylor retired the next batter to end the first inning.

The Chippewas went down in order to start the second as Bergeron recorded his second and third strikeouts of the game. Senior Justin Carlin reached base on an error in the bottom of the inning before Garcia followed by getting hit by a pitch. Both Hilltoppers were stranded on base to end the second inning.

Garcia began the third off with a nice sliding play to get the first out of the inning. Bergeron allowed a double to Camilletti and walked sophomore Jakob Marsee later in the inning. Coca knocked in a run with an infield single, tying the game at 1-1. Bergeron retired the next batter to end the inning. 

Redshirt sophomore Ty Crittenberger singled before Taylor forced a ground ball double play in the next at bat to open the bottom of the third. Batusich drew a walk before Gray smashed a two-run home run to right field, giving the Hilltoppers a 3-1 lead. Taylor recorded his third strikeout of the day to end the bottom of the third.

Sophomores Jacob Donahue and Danny Wuestenfeldled led off the fourth with a double and single. Freshman Robby Morgan knocked in Donahue with an RBI fielder’s choice. Junior Justin Simpson tied the game at 3-3 with an RBI single. Bergeron stranded a runner at second, ending the inning. The Hilltopper notched two singles in the bottom of the inning but failed to score.

Bergeron allowed a two-out single to senior Chris Monroe in the top of the fifth, but that was all the Chippewas could muster in the inning. The Hilltoppers went down in order to end the inning as Taylor struck out his fifth batter of the day.

Sophomore reliever Luke Stofel replaced Bergeron to start the sixth inning. The first three batters of the inning reached for the Chippewas on a single, an error, and a walk. Central Michigan took a 4-3 lead on an RBI fielder’s choice by Simpson. The Chippewas scored on another RBI fielder’s choice in the next at bat, extending their lead to 5-3.

After a two-out walk, WKU brought in senior Logan Bowen to relieve Stofel. Coca welcomed Bowen to the game with a two-run RBI double to left field. Blomquist made a sliding play to end the top of the sixth. Junior Matthew Meyer singled and scored on a Garcia one-out RBI double to right field. That was all the Hilltoppers produced in the inning.

Bowen started the seventh inning on the mound for the Hilltoppers. He retired the Chippewas in order before senior Jake Jones came in to close out the game for Central Michigan. Jones sat down the Hilltoppers in order to give Central Michigan a 7-4 victory in the first game of the doubleheader.

Game 2

The Chippewas defeated the Hilltoppers 3-0 in the second game of the day.

WKU freshman Cooper Hellman started his first game for the Hilltoppers in the second game of the day. Hellman went 2.1 innings, allowing one run on two hits. Sophomore Lane Diuguid followed Hellman up with a solid outing of his own, going four innings and allowing two runs on seven hits. 

Central Michigan senior Logan Buczkowski got the start for the Chippewas. Buczkowski went three innings, allowing no runs and one hit. 

Both teams struggled to get much going offensively for most of the game. The Chippewas were led by Wustenfeld who collected two hits including a home run. The Hilltoppers were blanked, only managing to get two hits in the game.

Simpson led off the game with a double for the Chippewas. With one out in the inning, Hellman hit Marsee with a pitch. Wuestenfeld knocked in a run on a two-out RBI double to right, giving Central Michigan an early 1-0 lead. 

Hellman retired the next batter to end the top of the first. Meyer walked to start the bottom of the inning. Meyer advanced to third on a passed ball and fielder’s choice but was unable to score. 

Hellman walked the first batter he faced in the top of the second. He retired the next two batters and picked off sophomore Drew Lechnir on a steal attempt to end the frame. Buczkowski walked Garcia to start the bottom of the second and gave up a two-out single to Blomquist. Buczkowski ended the inning, striking out sophomore Eric Riffe. 

Diuguid relieved Hellman after a walk in the top of the third with one out. Diuguid allowed a single to Marsee to start his outing but retired the next two he faced to end the inning. Buczkowski allowed a walk but nothing else in the bottom of the third, maintaining a 1-0 Central Michigan lead.

Diuguid returned to the mound to start the fourth and allowed back-to-back singles from Morgan and Lechnir to start the inning. The runners advanced to second and third on a fielder’s choice but Diuguid was able to strand them. 

Junior Ryan Palmblad started the bottom of the fourth on the mound for the Chippewas. Garcia led off with an infield hit, but the Hilltoppers did not get the bats going in the inning.

Diuguid retired the first batter he faced in the top of the fifth before allowing a single and a batter reaching on an error. Diuguid once again stranded two runners on base. Palmblad retired the Hilltoppers in order to end the fifth. 

Lechnir started the sixth inning with a bunt single off Diuguid, and Donahue followed with a double. Simpson knocked in a run with a bunt. Camilletti followed with a bunt of his own, but Diuguid threw out the runner at home before retiring the next batter to keep it a 2-0 game. 

Junior reliever Garrett Navarra took the mound in the bottom of the sixth. He allowed a walk but nothing else.

Diuguid came back out for the seventh and allowed a one-out solo home run to right center to extend the Chippewa lead 3-0. After hitting a batter, Diuguid was pulled from the game in favor of junior Hunter Crosby. 

Crosby retired the first two batters he faced to end the top of the seventh inning. Navarra allowed a one-out double to Blomquist in the bottom of the seventh but nothing else as the Chippewas claimed the victory over the Hilltoppers 3-0.

“They’ve got to come out and compete again tomorrow,” Pawlowski said. “This game can switch so fast. I like some of the things that we did, but they’ve got to come out tomorrow and be ready to compete. I know they will. Tomorrow’s a big game for us, we’re gonna find a way to walk out of here with a win tomorrow.”

Up next, the Hilltoppers will finish its four-game series against Central Michigan Sunday at 1 p.m. at Nick Denes Field. 

Baseball Reporter Camden Bush can be reached at [email protected].