Blown lead hands WKU Baseball series loss against FAU


Marshall Canupp

Hilltopper Baseball’s pitcher Aristotle Peter (49) walks off the mound as Aaron Shiflet (12) comes in to relieve him during their game against the Belmont Bruins at Nick Denes Field on April 5th.

Camden Bush, Baseball Reporter

The Hilltoppers blew another lead on the road Friday night as FAU defeated WKU 8-7.

WKU got off to a poor start and quickly bounced back to take the lead, but was ultimately unable to hold it. The win for Florida Atlantic gives the Owls a big conference series win and hands WKU another series loss.

The Hilltoppers now sit at 13-21 on the season and 4-10 in conference play as the squad has now lost four in a row.

WKU freshman Cooper Hellman got the start and managed 4.1 innings, surrendering six runs, three of which were earned. FAU got four hits and three walks out of Hellman. FAU starter sophomore Sam Drumheller went only two innings and allowed four runs, three of which were earned, on four hits.

Grad student Brian McAuliffe led the Hilltoppers’ offense with three hits, contributing a home run and knocking in a pair of runs. The Owls only needed seven hits to put up their eight runs. Sophomore Nolan Schanuel led the way with two hits, including a home run, and two RBIs.

Drumheller got off to a strong start in the top of the first, sitting the Hilltoppers down in order. Hellman allowed the Owls to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly RBI by sophomore Dylan Goldstein after a walk and a single.

The Hilltoppers quickly tied it up 1-1 in the top of the second as the first three batters reached and sophomore Andrew Delaney knocked in a run with a single. Hellman fared much better in the second inning, sitting the Owls down in order.

WKU scored four runs in the top of the third to take a 5-1 lead. The first five batters of the inning reached and freshman Ty Batusich recorded an RBI single before Hilltoppers added two more runs on an error. Later in the inning, Ricardo Leonett did some more damage with an RBI single. 

The Owls made it a 5-2 game on a sac fly RBI by Schanuel after a couple of walks in the bottom of the third. Hellman then hit a batter before the Owls plated two more on an error to make it 5-4.

WKU redshirt sophomore Ty Crittenberger homered to lead off the top of the fourth, extending the visitor’s advantage to 6-4. The Hilltoppers picked up a single later in the inning but couldn’t tack on any more runs. Hellman returned to the mound in the fourth despite some bad luck in the third and retired the Owls in order.

The WKU bats continued to roll in the top of the fifth as McAuliffe launched a solo home run to make it 7-4. FAU sophomore Armando Albert responded with a solo shot of his own to cut the home team’s deficit to 7-5. Schanuel launched yet another home run later in the inning to make things even tighter at 7-6. 

The Hilltoppers picked up a leadoff single in the sixth but could not get anything else going. Florida Atlantic tied it 7-7 in the bottom of the frame when junior Jackson Ross followed up a double with an RBI single. 

McAuliffe picked up a two-out single in the top of the seventh but the Hilltoppers failed to score. The Owls failed to score in their half in the seventh, keeping the score even.

The Hilltoppers went down in order in the top of the eighth. Senior Shane Magrann came up huge for the Owls with a go-ahead home run in the bottom of the eighth to give Florida Atlantic the 8-7 edge.

Despite two walks the Hilltoppers failed to score in the top of the ninth, handing FAU the victory.

Up next, the Hilltoppers will look to avoid a series sweep in Boca Raton, Florida tomorrow as the teams face off again at 11 a.m. CT.

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