WKU Baseball avoids four-game sweep with dominant performance at the plate


Tucker Covey

The Baseball team celebrates a win against Western Illinois on the opening day of the 2022 season on Friday, Feb 18. WKU won 6-4.

Camden Bush, Baseball Reporter

WKU (3-4) dominated Western Illinois (3-4) 14-7 at Nick Denes Field Sunday afternoon to avoid the four-game sweep.

“It was awesome. I was really excited to see the way they responded today,” WKU head coach John Pawlowski said. “Yesterday was a tough day, and I know the offense has been working extremely hard and give credit to them. We jumped out early and hit two two-run home runs early in the game to put us up 4-0. That’s a very good team over there, I’m glad that we kept adding on runs and found a way to get a win today.”

WKU junior Devyn Terbrak picked up the win, going seven innings and allowing five runs on seven hits with six strikeouts. Sophomore Ben Vitas started on the hill for Central Michigan in what was a bullpen game, using seven pitchers. Vitas went only 1.1 innings, allowing six runs.

The Hilltoppers saw eight different batters record a hit and four of them recorded more than one. Freshmen Ty Batusich and Andrew Delaney homered while junior Tristin Garcia and sophomore Aidan Gilroy recorded three hits each. Garcia also recorded five RBIs. Senior Aidan Shepardson led the way for the Chippewas with two hits and two RBIs. 

“I was excited for sure,” Delaney said. “I felt like I made some good contact. I drove some runs in, and we all played well. It was definitely a confidence booster.”

Terbrak walked junior Justin Simpson to get the game underway but forced a 4-6-3 double play in the next at bat. Terbrak ended the top of the first by forcing a flyout. 

Gilroy got the Hilltoppers’ first hit of the day with a one-out single. Batusich followed with his fourth home run of the year down the left field line, giving WKU a 2-0 lead. With two outs in the inning, junior Jackson Gray ripped a double off the wall in left field. 

Delaney followed the double with a deep home run to center field, giving the Hilltoppers an early 4-0 lead. Junior Ricardo Leonett launched a double off the center field wall to keep the two-out rally going. After a mound meeting, Vitas retired freshman Brett Blomquist to end the inning.

The Chippewas went down in order to start the second as Terbrak struck out his first two batters. Freshman AJ Fiechter and Gilroy walked to start the bottom of the frame, prompting a pitching change to junior Ryan Culley.

Culley walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. Garcia knocked in two more with a single to left, giving WKU a 6-0 lead. Gray walked to load the bases again, prompting another pitching change to sophomore Ryan Insco. Insco retired the first two he faced to end the inning.

Terbrak allowed a one-out walk but nothing else in the top of the third. Insco recorded a 1-2-3 inning in the third, highlighted by a great jumping catch at the warning track by sophomore Drew Lechnir.

The first three Chippewa hitters reached to start the fourth on a hit by pitch, a bunt single and a single. Sophomore Danny Wuestenfeld knocked in Central Michigan’s first run with a sacrifice fly to left field making the score 6-1. 

Freshman Robby Morgan followed with a two-out, two-run double, cutting the deficit to 6-3. Senior Aidan Shepardson came up with an RBI double in the next at bat making it 6-4. Terbrak forced a groundout to end the inning.

Gilroy led off the bottom of the fourth with a triple, his third hit of the day. Batusich recorded his third RBI of the afternoon with a fielder’s choice to give WKU a 7-4 lead. Insco retired the next two to end the inning.

Simpson walked to kick off the fifth inning, Camilletti followed with a long at bat, leading to a single. Terbrak forced a fielder’s choice in the next at bat, putting runners on the corners. He ended the inning with a 5-4-3 double play.

Sophomore Clayton Brock started the bottom of the fifth on the mound for the Chippewas. Delaney and Leonett led off the inning with a double and a walk. Brock put runners on the corners with a fielder’s choice. Freshman AJ Fiechter knocked in a run with a sac fly. Brock ended the inning by picking off Blomquist at first.

Terbrak sat the Chippewas down in order in the top of the sixth, recording his fifth strikeout of the day. Junior Garret Willis took the mound for the Chippewas in the bottom of the inning. Junior Matthew Meyer led off the inning with an 11 pitch at bat, drawing a walk.

Batusich hit an infield single with one out in the inning. Garcia launched an RBI double that bounced off the center fielder’s glove to give WKU a 9-4 lead before Gray knocked in another with a sac fly to center, making the score 10-4. Willis forced a groundout to end the inning.

Terbrak came back out for the seventh inning and allowed a double to the first batter he faced in Shepardson. Lechnir followed with a bunt single, putting runners on the corners. Simpson knocked in a run in the next at bat, cutting the deficit to 10-5. Terbrak was able to retire the next two to end the inning. 

Freshman Michael Conte pitched the bottom of the seventh for the Chippewas. Conte allowed back-to-back one-out singles to Blomquist and Fiechter. With two outs in the inning, Simpson made a throwing error on a grounder from Gilroy, scoring two runs and extending the WKU lead to 12-5. 

After hitting Batusich with a pitch, sophomore Drew Alsobrooks replaced Conte. Garcia welcomed Alsobrooks to the game with a two-run double to center, making it 14-5. Alsobrooks retired Gray to end the inning.

Junior Wil Moritz started the top of the eighth on the mound for the Hilltoppers. Moritz allowed a single to sophomore Colton Coca to start the inning. Wuestenfeld followed with an RBI double, making it 14-6. After allowing a walk, Moritz was pulled in favor of sophomore Dalton Mesaris. Mesaris allowed a run on a one-out fielder’s choice making the score 14-7. He ended the inning by forcing a flyout.

Alsobrooks returned to the mound in the bottom of the eighth. Alsobrooks allowed a walk, but nothing else in the inning.

Mesaris stayed in to close out the game for the Hilltoppers in the top of the ninth. Mesaris allowed a double and single but no runs in the ninth, giving the Hilltoppers a 14-7 victory over Central Michigan and preventing a four-game series sweep.

“We started off the series not the way we wanted to, we lost three times to them, but they were all good games,” Garcia said. “We were putting out good competition. So to come out today and do what we did, it was a big time for us. To show that, we can hang with a team like that and to just keep winning going forward.”

Up next, the Hilltoppers will travel to Lexington on Tuesday to take on the Kentucky Wildcats at 3 p.m.

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