WKU (10-13), (0-3, C-USA) hosted Charlotte (14-8), (3-0, C-USA) for a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon. The Hilltoppers played two seven-inning games and fell in both contests to the 49ers by a collective score of 11-4.
“We didn’t get an awful lot going in game one and I liked the way that our team came out in the second game today,” head coach John Pawlowski said. “I thought we had a lot of energy and a lot of life in the dugout.”
Junior Sean Bergeron got the start for WKU. He tossed for 5.1 innings allowing three runs with seven strikeouts.
“I always talk to the starters about giving us a chance to win the game and keeping us in the game and I thought he [Bergeron] and I thought he did that,” Pawlowski said.
Sophomore Austin Marozas got his third start of the season for Charlotte. He tossed for five innings allowing zero runs and four hits.
Through the first two innings of play, both teams had nothing to show. Charlotte had the first two hits of the contest.
After an error and a walk put two 49er runners on first and second base, sophomore Aaron McKeithan batted both runners in on an RBI double for the first two runs of the game in the top of the third frame. WKU didn’t have any luck with the bats in the bottom of the third frame.
After both teams went three up and three down in the fourth frame, freshman Jake Cunningham was walked to lead-off the top of the fifth frame. He advanced to second base on a single and then advanced to third on a passed ball. Cunningham extended the 49ers’ lead to 3-0 on a sacrifice fly from freshman Gino Groover.
In the bottom of the fifth frame, WKU loaded the bases from a senior Kevin Lambert single, a walk, and a redshirt freshman TY Crittenberger single. All three runners were left stranded when sophomore Matthew Meyer grounded out to end the fifth inning of play.
At the top of the sixth frame, redshirt junior Collin Lollar relieved Bergeron. Sophomore Jack Dragum extended the 49ers’ lead 4-0. Then Cunningham hit his first collegiate homerun on a two-run shot to left field to make the score 6-0.
In the bottom of the sixth frame, senior Jack Wilson hit a lead-off double. After Morozas hit senior Ray Zuberer III with a pitch, Charlotte made a pitching change going to sophomore Casey Bargo. Bargo got out of the sixth inning leaving Wilson stranded at third base and Zuberer stranded at first base.
WKU had two runners on first and second base in the bottom of the seventh frame, but both were left stranded after three straight outs. Charlotte shut out WKU 6-0.
Sophomore Devyn Terbrak got the start in game two for WKU. He tossed for 5.1 innings allowing four runs.
“Devyn Terbrak was outstanding also, he went five and a third and I think gave up two earned runs and no walks and two strikeouts,” Pawlowski said. “I thought both of our starters today did a very good job.”
For Charlotte, redshirt junior Matt Brooks got his fifth start of the season in game two of the doubleheader. He tossed for 0.1 innings allowing 1 run and three hits.
Sophomore Austin Knight doubled to lead off the game in the top of the first frame. He then scored on an error by Lambert to give Charlotte an early 1-0.
Meyer led off the bottom of the first frame with a single. Meyer advanced to second and third base from a hit by a pitch and a single from Zuberer. Then graduate Davis Sims batted Meyer in on an RBI single.
Charlotte then made an early pitching change to bring in freshman Spencer Giesting. Giesting got out of the first inning, but not before Zuberer scored on a Lambert sacrifice fly to make the score 2-1.
The 49ers got the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the second frame, but did not retaliate. WKU went three up and three down in the bottom of the second frame.
Through the third and fourth inning, both teams had nothing to show for combining for one hit and two runners on base between both teams in that span.
Senior Matt Phipps singled to lead-off in the bottom of the fifth frame. Then Wilson walked to put two WKU runners on first and second base, but both were left stranded after Sims lined out to end the fifth inning.
The 49ers got the bats going in the top of the sixth frame starting with a McKeithan single. After an error by Meyer, the 49ers had runners on first and second base. Then sophomore Hunter Baker tripled to score both 49ers’ runners and give Charlotte a 3-2 lead.
Redshirt sophomore Mason Vinyard then relieved Terbrak. Vineyard got out of the top of the sixth frame, but not before Charlotte was able to extend their lead 4-2.
Charlotte made a pitching change in the bottom of the sixth going to sophomore Hale Sims for Giesting after a single by junior pinch hitter Justin Carlin. After Lambert singled, freshman Eric Riffe batted in Carlin on an RBI single to make the score 4-3.
Charlotte made their second pitching change of the sixth inning going to sophomore Kolton Scherbenske. Meyer tied the game at four apiece on an RBI single. Scherbenske then got Wilson to ground out to end the sixth inning.
The game went into extra innings after both teams went three up and three down in the seventh inning.
In the top of the eighth inning, McKeithan got on base after an error by Vinyard, then he advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt. Then he scored on an RBI triple from freshman Nate Furman to give the 49ers an eventual 5-4 win.
Up next on Sunday at 1 p.m., WKU will host Charlotte to close their first C-USA series of the 2021 season.
“Our team knows it’s an important game tomorrow,” Pawlowski said. “I know we’ve got a lot more games to play, but they understand that tomorrow is an opportunity.”
Baseball beat reporter Wyatt Sparkman can be reached at [email protected] Follow Wyatt on Twitter at @WyattSparkman3