WKU Baseball earns first C-USA win over Charlotte


Tucker Covey

Third baseman Matthew Meyer, left fielder Justin Carlin, and designated hitter Ty Batusich celebrate after Batusich Hit a home run on Friday, Feb. 18. WKU played Western Illinois and won 6-4.

Camden Bush, Baseball Reporter

WKU (9-8, 1-0 C-USA) started off conference play with a 7-5 victory over Charlotte (11-6, 0-1 C-USA) on Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina, at Trust Field, the MLB affiliate Triple A Charlotte Knights. This was the first game of a three-game set. 

WKU junior Jake Kates picked up the win, going five innings while allowing three runs on six hits. Charlotte sophomore Spencer Giesting went four innings, allowing four runs on four hits and two walks.

Junior Matthew Meyer and freshman Ty Batusich led the Hilltoppers to victory offensively. Each batter recorded three hits on the day. Sophomore Will Butcher led the way for the 49ers, recording two hits and came around to score twice on the day.

Meyer led the game off with a single in the top of the first. Giesting retired the next three to keep the Hilltoppers off the board. Kates struck out the first batter he faced in the bottom of the first before hitting a batter. The batter was thrown out at the plate to end the inning as graduate Josh Madole singled with two outs.

Giesting retired the first batter he faced in the top of the second before allowing a double to Batusich. Batusich advanced to third on a wild pitch in the next at bat. He scored on an RBI sac fly by sophomore Andrew Delaney, giving WKU a 1-0 lead. Giesting retired the next batter to end the top of the second.

Kates retired the first batter he faced in the bottom of the second. The next batter singled. Freshman Blake Jackson evened the score with a double. Junior Jack Dragum hit an RBI single to make it 2-1. Kates retired the next batter before allowing a walk and hitting a batter. The following batter popped out to end the inning.

Giesting sat down the Hilltoppers in order in the top of the third. Kates recorded a 1-2-3 inning as well in the bottom of the third, striking out one.

WKU failed to get a runner on base again in the top of the fourth. The 49ers recorded a single in the bottom of the fourth but failed to score for a second straight inning.

Batusich launched a solo home run to lead off the top of the fifth. Giesting walked the next two batters, prompting a pitching change to sophomore Tony Rossi. Both runners stole bases to put two runners in scoring position. WKU took the lead back with a sac fly RBI in foul ground by freshman AJ Fiechter. Meyer followed with an RBI double to make it a 4-2 game. The next batter grounded out to end the frame.

Junior Austin Knight led off the bottom of the fifth with a solo homer to cut the Charlotte deficit to 4-3. Kates retired the next three to end the fifth.

Sophomore Aidan Gilroy led off the top of the sixth with a single. Charlotte sophomore pitcher AJ Wilson hit the next batter before walking a batter to load the bases. Graduate Michael Oh relieved Wilson with the bases loaded. 

Oh forced Delaney to ground into a double play while another run came across, to WKU up 5-3. Oh retired the next batter to end the top of the sixth. Junior Hunter Crosby started the bottom of the sixth on the mound for the Hilltoppers. Crosby sat the 49ers down in order. 

The Hilltoppers recorded a walk and a single with one out in the top of the seventh. Garcia followed with an RBI fielder’s choice groundout, giving WKU a 6-3 lead. Gilroy followed with a single before the next batter struck out to end the inning. 

Crosby retired the first batter he faced in the bottom of the seventh before allowing a walk, prompting a pitching change. Redshirt Junior Mason Vinyard entered the game and retired two in a row to end the seventh.

Batusich and Delaney led off the top of the eighth with back-to-back singles. Freshman Brett Blomquist knocked in a run with a one-out sac fly later in the inning, making it 7-3. The following batter was retired to end the inning.

The 49ers started the bottom of the eighth with three straight hits. Charlotte recorded a single, followed by a double, followed by an RBI single by Jackson. Vinyard struck out the next batter before allowing an RBI sac fly, cutting the WKU lead to 7-5. The following batter flew out to end the eighth.

WKU went down in order in the top of the ninth. Vinyard sat down the 49ers in order in the bottom of the ninth, striking out two and giving WKU a 7-5 victory over Charlotte

Up next, the Hilltoppers will take on Charlotte at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday, March 19 at Charlotte’s home stadium in game two of the three-game series. 

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