WKU fights hard but loses to No. 11 Vanderbilt


Marshall Canupp

Hilltopper Baseball’s starting pitcher Luke Stofel (30) throws to thrown a ball down to home plate during their game against the Belmont Bruins at Nick Denes Field on April 5th.

Lynda Eernisse, Sports Reporter

WKU Baseball held its own with the No. 11 Vanderbilt Commodores, losing 7-4 Tuesday night down in Nashville, Tennessee.  

WKU (13-19, 4-8 C-USA) threw four different pitchers at Vanderbilt with sophomore Luke Stofel getting the start. He pitched just two innings, allowing four runs and three hits.  

The Commodores (23-9, 5-7 SEC) put six different pitchers on the mound with freshman Devin Futrell picking up the start. He tossed five innings, allowing two runs on three hits.

Futrell dominated the Hilltopper bats to start the game. WKU failed to produce a base runner until the fourth inning, but Futrell ended that hope of scoring with a strikeout. The same could not be said for Vanderbilt’s offense.  

Vanderbilt took the first lead of the night in the bottom of the first when junior Spencer Jones hit a two-out, RBI single. The Commodores extended their lead on sophomore Jack Bulger’s  two-run RBI home run. They added to their lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the second thanks to a solo home run from junior Carter Young.

Both teams entered a two inning dry spell before WKU snapped it in the top of the fifth. After a two-out single, junior Jackson Gray bombed a two-run shot to cut the Commodore lead to 4-2.

Vanderbilt answered in the bottom of the frame to push its lead back to four runs. Senior Dominic Keegan knocked in a run from second base on an RBI single. Jones put his team up 6-2 after the fifth with an RBI single of his own.

WKU looked to have a breakthrough in the top of the sixth, putting three runners on base with two outs but eventually leaving them stranded. Vanderbilt put a runner on third base in the bottom of the frame but to no avail.

The Hiltoppers continued to chip away at the Commodores’ lead in the seventh inning. WKU put two runners on with a single and a walk before executing a double steal to put both in scoring position. Junior Tristin Garcia made the most of it, smashing a two-run RBI double to cut the deficit to 6-4.  

The Commodores retaliated in the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run from Keegan, giving themselves breathing room with a 7-4 lead.

Both teams failed to do much in the eighth frame before redshirt sophomore Ty Crittenberger hit a two-out single in the top of the ninth. The game ended in the next at bat with a ground out, securing a 7-4 victory for the Commodores. 

Up next, WKU will play a three-game series against Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton, Florida, beginning on Thursday, April 14 at 5:30 p.m. CT.

Sports Reporter Lynda Eernisse can be reached at [email protected]