WKU can’t match Rice’s 13 runs in high-scoring loss

Hilltopper+Baseball%E2%80%99s+Ty+Crittenberger+%2822%29+takes+a+cut+at+the+ball+from+the+Louisville+Cardinal%E2%80%99s+pitcher+during+their+match+up+with+the+University+of+Louisville+Cardinals+on+March+29th+at+Nick+Denes+Field.

Marshall Canupp

Hilltopper Baseball’s Ty Crittenberger (22) takes a cut at the ball from the Louisville Cardinal’s pitcher during their match up with the University of Louisville Cardinals on March 29th at Nick Denes Field.

Camden Bush, Baseball Reporter

WKU Baseball failed to put together back-to-back wins against the Rice Owls, losing 13-8 Saturday afternoon.

The Hilltoppers got off to a quick start but couldn’t maintain their lead. WKU couldn’t overcome a horrendous third inning in which Rice turned a 2-1 lead into a 12-1 lead. The Hilltoppers’ offense strung together some runs, but the pitching struggled.

The Hilltoppers now sit at 14-28 on the season and 5-15 in conference play. The loss for WKU comes just one day after the squad snapped a ten-game losing streak. The Owls now sit at 12-30 on the season and 5-15 in conference play.

WKU freshman Cooper Hellman went only two innings and allowed five runs on five hits. Hellman also struggled to find the strike zone, walking four batters. Freshman David Shaw got the start for Rice and went five innings. Shaw allowed two runs, one of which was earned, on three hits.

The Hilltoppers tallied eight runs despite only recording five hits, with no batter recording more than one. The Owls offense exploded – five different batters recorded multiple hits. Sophomore Pierce Gallo led the way with four hits and four RBIs.

Shaw made quick work of the Hilltoppers in the top of the first, retiring WKU in order. Hellman got off to a good start in the bottom of the frame, keeping Rice off the board despite a walk.

WKU sophomore Aidan Gilroy followed a walk and a single with a one-out RBI groundout to make it 1-0 in the top of the second. Rice sophomore Justin Long followed two one-out singles with an RBI groundout. Senior Hal Hughes followed with an RBI single to give the Owls a 2-1 lead at the end of the second.

Shaw bounced back in the top of the third and retired the Hilltoppers in order. Rice’s offense exploded and blew the game wide open in the bottom of the third with ten runs. The Owls offense made it a 12-1 game thanks to seven hits in the inning, an error, three wild pitches and three walks. Gallo had the best inning for the Owls, batting twice in the inning. He recorded two hits, three RBIs and a run.

The Hilltoppers made it a 12-2 game in the top of the fourth on an RBI groundout after a single and an error. The Owls picked up a lead-off double in the bottom of the fourth but failed to get anything else going in the inning.

Redshirt sophomore Ty Crittenberger doubled in the top of the fifth but the Hilltoppers failed to scoreRice went down in order in the bottom of the fifth.

WKU’s offense came to life in the top of the sixth with three runs. Senior Justin Carlin knocked in a run with an RBI double before freshman AJ Fiechter knocked in another with an RBI single. The Hilltoppers then added another run on an RBI groundout to make it 12-5. The Owls put two men on base in the bottom of the sixth but failed to score.

The Hilltoppers made it a 12-7 game in the top of the seventh. Rice loaded the bases with two walks and a hit-by-pitch before two more hit-by-pitches drew in two runs. Gallo knocked in another run for the Owls with an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to make it 13-7.

Both teams failed to score in the eighth inning despite a single by Rice. 

The Hilltoppers picked up a run on an RBI double by Carlin in the ninth to make it 13-8. WKU failed to get anything else in the inning as Rice claimed a 13-8 victory.

Up next, the Hilltoppers and Owls will face off Sunday in the rubber match of the three-game series at 1 p.m. CT.

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