WKU clinches series over Bowling Green State, Hilltoppers ride a three-game win streak

WKU Junior pitcher Sean Bergeron (23) celebrates with coaches and teammates after exiting the game against North Dakota State on Sunday, February 21, 2021.

Wyatt Sparkman

WKU (7-7) hosted Bowling Green State (2-7) Saturday afternoon for a doubleheader affair. The Hilltoppers played in two seven-inning games in preparation for Conference USA’s style of a weekend series this spring. 

“When you play a doubleheader and we only use three pitchers for 14 innings that says a lot about what those guys did.” head coach John Pawlowski said, “They went out there and Sean Bergeron was outstanding in game one. Aristotle Peter started game two and did a great job, and Mason Vinyard came in and made some huge pitches.”    

Junior Sean Bergeron got the start in game one for WKU. The right-handed pitcher tossed a complete seven-inning outing allowing one run and striking out six batters.  

“It feels good, just gaining momentum in the conference, and our bullpen, we just come in and throw strikes and we do what we need to do, we’ll be in a good situation,” Begergon said. “We’re coming along well.”  

For Bowling Green State, junior Tyler Hays got his second start of the season. He tossed for 3.1 innings, allowing four runs with seven strikeouts.  

Senior Ray Zuberer III led the Hilltopper bats going 4-for-6 overall on the day. He knocked in three RBIs and hit his second homerun of the spring to lift his team to a 3-1 victory in game two on Saturday. 

Game 1 

Sophomore Ross Tyler singled on the first pitch of the game. After Bergeron walked another Falcon batter, he got out of the top of the first inning with a ground out.     

Sophomore Matthew Meyer singled up the middle to begin the bottom of the first frame. After a single to advance Meyer to third base and stolen base by senior Ray Zuberer III. Hays then struck out the next three batters to end the first inning. 

After the Falcons went three up and three down in the top of the second inning, the Hilltoppers loaded the bases on a double, single and hit by pitch. Hays got out for the second inning with a double play and a strike out, but not before WKU scored the first run of the game on a wild pitch. 

After both teams had nothing to show in the third inning, Bowling Green State got two runners in scoring position in the top of the fourth frame but could not get them a crossed home play, leaving them stranded.  

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Falcons made a pitching change bringing in senior David Stopp for Hays after he loaded the bases with three straight walks. 

Zuberer then extended the Hilltopper lead with an RBI double. Stopp got out of the inning, but not before graduate Davis Sims batted in another run to make the Hilltopper lead 4-0 at the end of the fourth inning. 

After both teams had nothing to show in the fifth inning, the Falcons cut into the Hilltopper lead when sophomore Adam Fallon hit an RBI single to cut the deficit to 4-1 at the end of the top of the sixth frame. The Hilltoppers could not retaliate going three up and three down in the bottom of the sixth inning. 

The Hilltoppers won the game 4-1 after the Falcons went three up and three down in the top of the seventh inning. 

“But the thing is we’re not swinging the bat as well as we want to,” Zuberer said. “We talked about that last year a lot, but that was last year. We got to focus on this year as well and we’re fortunate enough right now to come up with these big hits and when the going gets tough we just have to grind it out.” 

Game 2 

Redshirt junior Aristotle Peter got his second start for WKU in game two. He pitched for five innings, allowing one run with five strikeouts. 

For Bowling Green State, sophomore Rigo Ramos got the nod for game two. He tossed for five innings, allowing one run. 

Game two started the same way as game one — with a Tyler Ross single. Ross stole second and advanced to third on a fielder’s choice before being stranded at third after a ground out. The Hilltoppers went three up and three down to end the first inning. 

Through the next two innings, both teams had nothing to show as nobody made it past second base. 

After the Falcons had nothing to show in the top of the fourth, Zuberer III hit a lead off double to start the bottom of the fourth for the Hilltoppers. The Falcons got out of the fourth inning unscaved when senior Jack Wilson lined into a double play. 

In the bottom of the fifth inning, redshirt freshman Hunter Evans in his first collegiate start batted in redshirt freshman Ty Crittenberger to give the Hilltoppers a 1-0 lead. 

In the top of the sixth inning, redshirt sophomore Mason Vinyard came in relief of Peter after he gave up two straight singles to start the sixth inning. Vinyard got out of the sixth inning with two straight strikeouts, but not before sophomore Jack Krause tied the game on an RBI single. 

The Falcons made a pitching change going to senior Jermey Spezia at the start of the bottom of the sixth frame. On Spezia’s first pitch, Zuberer hit a solo homerun to give the lead back to WKU 2-1. 

“He was mid 80s and I knew I could get a pitch to handle just because they like to attack with the fastball early and especially with no runners on the base,” Zuberer said. “Basically to lead off the game, all they did was just throw fastballs, so I just wanted to jump on a fastball and I just put a good swing on it.”  

Spezia got out of the inning, but not before senior Kevin Lambert hit an RBI single to extend the Hilltoppers’ lead 3-1.

The Falcons went three up and three down to end the game. Vinyard got his third victory on the year.       

Up next, the Hilltoppers close out the weekend series with a nine-inning game 1p.m. Sunday. 

Pawlowski said redshirt junior Michael Darrell-Hicks will be the starting pitcher for the final game against the Falcons. 

Baseball beat reporter Wyatt Sparkman can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Wyatt on Twitter at @WyattSparkman3