Hilltoppers drop series to Troy in Weekend Showdown.


Jeff Brown/HERALD

It was a rough weekend on the diamond for the baseball Tops as they traveled down to Troy, Alabama to take on Sun Belt foe, the Troy Trojans.

Friday night kicked off the festivities as WKU captured a game 5-4 before dropping two straight Saturday and Sunday by scores of 11-6, and 10-5. Western continues to run into pitching woes and cold bats at the plate.

Friday night, WKU sent ace Justin Hageman to the mound. Hageman entered the game with a 4-1 record on the season with a 2.72 ERA on the year. Hageman went 6 innings, striking out six batters and allowing 9 hits and only three runs. He worked himself into a jam in the sixth inning, which would lead to his exit and for the entrance of Brennan Pearson. The late reliever would work his magic until closer Ian Tompkins could come in and seal the deal throwing a game sealing strike out. Pitching in the first installment wasn’t the most magnificent part of the Tops outing. The Hilltoppers got much needed production from designated hitter Philip Diedrick. Diedrick, who is hitting .272 on the season, sent two solo homers flying over the fence to place the Hilltoppers over the edge. Those also producing for Western were sophomore Anderson Miller and junior Ryan Church. Miller started the evening with a RBI single, scoring teammate Scott Wilcox. Church knocked in a runner on a fielders choice RBI in the 3rd inning. The Tops would allow 4 Trojan runners to score in the bottom of the sixth before the bullpen took control of the situation and sealed the game for a 5-4 WKU victory.

Saturday, WKU sent southpaw Austin Clay to the mound to try and capture the series from Troy early. However, Clay would last only 3.2 innings, allowing 5 runs in his effort. Coming in relief much earlier than planned was teammate Sam Higgs, who worked 3 innings, striking out two, giving up three hits and allowing only one run. Following Higgs in came Tate Glasscock who worked a little magic until all the magic left in the 8th, when Trojan batters scored five runs off of four hits and a WKU error. Glasscock was tagged with the loss and to make matters worse, reliever Brandon Allen would allow 2 runners to score in the eighth as well. Before the barrage of runs in the 8th, came WKU worked a their way into a 6-6 tie after six innings. The Hilltoppers would get timely hits from David Simmons who hit two home runs and Miller who would hit one of his own bringing the Tops within two runs. With the Trojans lead cut in half, senior outfielder Regan Flaherty would send a two out rally pitch down the right field line, scoring Leiff Clarkson. An inning later, a leadoff single from first baseman Church would set up the perfect timing for Anderson Miller to send a 2-2 pitch over the right field wall for a game tying two run BOMB! However, no one could predict the bullpen implosion that would loom that would result in WKU losing 11-6. Leaving the series notched at 1-1 and the Tops with a record of 19-16 and 7-7 in the Sun Belt.

The rubber match presented sophomore Josh Bartley in his first ever Sun Belt Conference start. Bartley started strong but faded quickly, walking two batters, hitting three and allowing one hit which resulted in six Troy runs in the fourth inning. In to relieve the battered pitcher was Jake Thompson who threw one wild pitch, allowing a Troy player to score but managed to rally and stop the bleeding keeping, the fourth to a 6-run inning. With all seemingly lost, WKU put a small rally together when trailing 6-1, with hits from Hunter Wood and Clarkson. The ever so clutch Flaherty, who had a career high four hit day, ended the inning after he grounded out to second thus ending the rally. With WKU in striking distance, Troy produced four runs on four hits in the 8th. In the ninth, WKU would get a bases loaded chance with Friday’s goat Diedrick up to bat hopes rose — but, Diedrick would ground as a WKU run would score. Later in the ninth, Ryan Messex would get an RBI single, but it would be too little too late as Troy would take the series 2-1 and send WKU to 19-18 on the season and 7-8 in the SBC.

Friday night was somewhat promising, as it took Troy until the 6th inning to score, but Saturday and Sunday were not ideal. With a game at B1G opponent Indiana on Wednesday, the Tops will rest and look for better pitching to get their season back on track. Until then thank you for checking in with Wave The Red Towel. We hope you all continue to enjoy Hilltopper athletics and all content presented on WTRT. Look in the coming week for a spring football preview, until then… GO TOPS!