WKU’s comeback attempt falls short against Charlotte, losing first C-USA series


Allie Hendricks

WKU sophomore infielder Eric Riffe attempts to slide into home plate, ultimately getting out before being able to score during the game against Western Illinois University at Nick Denes field on Feb. 20, 2022.

Camden Bush, Baseball Reporter

WKU (9-10, 1-2 C-USA) was bested by Charlotte (13-6, 1-2 C-USA) 13-12 in walkoff fashion Sunday afternoon. This gives the Hilltoppers a series loss in their first conference battle of the season. 

The Hilltoppers overcame an eight-run fifth inning by the 49ers, taking the lead in the top of the ninth. Redshirt junior Mason Vinyard came in for the bottom of the ninth and allowed the 49ers to come back and walk it off. 

WKU starter junior Devyn Terbrak went 4.1 innings. Terbrak allowed seven earned runs on nine hits. The Hilltoppers used six different pitchers on the day. The 49ers also used six pitchers on the day with redshirt senior Matt Brooks getting the start. Brooks went only 2.1 innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits.

The Hilltoppers offense was once again led by freshman Ty Batusich with three hits on the day. Junior Tristin Garcia and freshman Brett Blomquist also picked up three hits on the day. 

The 49ers had a balanced offensive attack as eight different batters recorded hits on the day. Sophomore Kaden Hopson was the star of the day as he won the game for Charlotte with a walk-off single.

Brooks sat down the Hilltoppers in order to get things started in the top of the first. 

Terbrak retired the first batter he faced in the bottom of the first before allowing a solo home run by junior Austin Knight. Terbrak then allowed a double followed by a hit by pitch. Terbrak retired the next batter before allowing a two-run RBI single by sophomore Will Butcher to give Charlotte a 3-0 lead after the first inning. 

Batusich led off the top of the second with a solo home run to center to make it 3-1. Brooks retired the next two before allowing a double to Blomquist. The following batter flew out to end the top of the second. Terbrak allowed a single but nothing else in the bottom of the second.

Brooks retired the first batter he faced in the top of the third before junior Matthew Meyer singled. Garcia followed with his first hit of the series with a single, prompting a pitching change to sophomore AJ Wilson. Wilson allowed a sac fly RBI to sophomore Aidan Gilroy, making it 3-2.

Charlotte failed to put a runner on base as Terbrak recorded a 1-2-3 inning to end the third.

Blomquist recorded his second hit of the day with a two-out single in the top of the fourth but that was all the Hilltoppers could manage in the inning. The 49ers saw a runner reach on a walk in the bottom of the fourth but couldn’t get anything else going in the inning.

Wilson retired the first batter he faced in the top of the fifth before hitting the next batter. Garcia followed with an RBI triple, tying the game. Gilroy followed with an RBI sac fly, giving WKU a 4-3 lead. Batusich doubled in the next at bat, forcing a pitching change to redshirt senior Colby Bruce. Bruce retired the first batter he faced to end the top of the fifth.

Terbrak retired the first man he faced in the bottom of the fifth before allowing a bunt single. The following two batters singled to load the bases. Graduate Josh Madole singled, knocking in two more runs and giving Charlotte a 5-4 lead. Sophomore Dalton Mesaris relieved Terbrak.

Mesaris walked the first batter he faced, forcing another pitching change to junior Wade Chandler. Chandler hit the first batter he faced, pushing in a run. The following batter batted in another run with a sac fly. Charlotte tacked on another run on a wild pitch. 

Junior Hunter Crosby entered the game with two men on base. Crosby walked the first batter he faced before allowing a two-run RBI double to sophomore Nate Furman. The 49ers made it 11-4 on a wild pitch before Crosby ended the inning with a strikeout.

Graduate Brian McAuliffe led off the top of the sixth with a solo homer, cutting the WKU deficit  to 11-5. The following batter walked before Bruce retired three straight to end the frame. Graduate Logan Bowen started the bottom of the sixth on the mound for the Hilltoppers and retired the 49ers in order to end the sixth.

The Hilltoppers led off the top of the seventh with back-to-back singles from Garcia and Gilroy. Batusich followed with a single, the Hilltoppers scored on an error on the play. Sophomore Andrew Delaney followed with a sac fly RBI. McAuliffe cut the deficit to 11-8 with an RBI single in the next at bat. Bruce retired the next two batters to end the frame.

The 49ers recorded a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh but failed to get anything else going in the inning.

The Hilltoppers failed to put any runners on base in the top of the eighth. Bowen recorded a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the eighth to end the inning.

The first two WKU batters walked in the top of the ninth before Delaney launched a three-run home run to tie it up 11-11. The next batter flew out before Blomquist launched a go-ahead solo homer to give WKU a 12-11 lead. The next two batters were retired to end the top of the ninth.

Vinyard started the bottom of the ninth on the hill for WKU. Vinyard retired the first batter he faced before allowing a single and hitting two batters to load the bases. Vinyard walked the next batter to tie the game at 12-12. Hopson walked it off for Charlotte in the next at bat with an RBI single, giving Charlotte a 13-12 victory.

Up next, the Hilltoppers return home to face Evansville on Nick Denes Field Tuesday. The game is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

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