WKU falls to FAU after hot start


Tucker Covey

First baseman Aiden Gilroy makes a run for second base and gets tagged out on Friday, Feb. 18. WKU won 6-4.

Camden Bush, Baseball Reporter

The Hilltoppers fell short of victory in Boca Raton, Fla., against the Florida Atlantic Owls 5-3 Thursday night.

The Hilltoppers got off to a very hot start offensively but cooled off very quickly, not scoring after the first inning. The Owls’ (22-13, 8-5 C-USA) bats started to heat up throughout the day with WKU’s offense going stagnant. The game flew by, lasting just over two hours.

The loss for WKU came in the first of a three-game weekend series. The Hilltoppers now sit at 13-20 on the season and 4-9 in conference play. WKU lost three in a row after winning three straight.

WKU junior Devyn Terbrak went seven innings and allowed five runs, only two of which were earned, on nine hits and eight strikeouts. Florida Atlantic senior Hunter Cooley got off to a bad start but settled in quickly. Cooley ended up going all nine innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, with eight strikeouts. 

The Hilltoppers’ offense had another solid performance, with junior Tristin Garcia and sophomore Aidan Gilroy recording two hits on the day. Gilroy homered and picked up two RBIs. Eight different Owls recorded a hit with sophomore Armando Albert leading the way with two.

WKU got off to a very strong start in the top of the first inning. The Hilltoppers recorded four hits in the inning to go up 3-0, highlighted by a two-run home run by Gilroy and an RBI double by senior Justin Carlin. The Owls failed to retaliate in the bottom of the first despite a lead-off single and a hit by pitch.

Cooley had a strong bounceback inning in the top of the second, retiring the Hilltoppers in order. The Owls tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the second on a two-run RBI double by Albert and a throwing error later in the inning. 

Cooley began to settle in in the top of the third, retiring WKU in order and striking out two. Terbrak allowed two baserunners to start the bottom of the third before retiring three straight to end the inning.

Graduate Brian McAuliffe led off the top of the fourth with a single, but the Hilltoppers didn’t get anything else going in the inning. The Owls put runners on the corners with a single and an error to start the bottom of the fourth. Sophomore Gabriel Rincones Jr. followed with an RBI groundout to make it 4-3 to end the fourth.

The Hilltoppers loaded the bases with one out in the top of the fifth but failed to score again. The Owls failed to score in the bottom of the frame despite the Hilltoppers recording their fifth error of the game.

WKU once again put a couple men on base in the top of the sixth but didn’t cut into the deficit. Florida Atlantic tried to get a two-out rally going in the bottom of the sixth with a single and a double but to no avail.

Cooley returned to the mound in the top of the seventh and retired the Hilltoppers in order. Freshman Dom Presto extended the FAU lead to 5-3 with an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh.

Cooley made quick work of the Hilltoppers again in the eighth, retiring them in order for the second straight inning. The Owls failed to extend their lead in the bottom of the eighth, sending the game to the ninth inning. 

In the ninth, WKU went down in order again to end the game and give FAU a 5-3 win.

Up next, the Hilltoppers will face Florida Atlantic Saturday in game two of a three-game series at 5:30 p.m. in Boca Raton, Fla.

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