WKU Closes Season Against Panthers


Tonight, Western Kentucky will draw their 2014 baseball campaign to a close by bringing in the Georgia State Panthers to Nick Denes Field for the final Sun Belt Conference regular season contests before WKU’s move to Conference USA in July. An end to so many eras.

You know the phrase “it’s better late than never”? Well, that holds true here. While it’s the final regular season series, we still have all of the SBC tournament to bring you (which, just like we did with basketball, we will) and we are going to try a new format to our previews. So, without further adieu, here’s everything you’ll need to know for this weekend.

Georgia State @ Western Kentucky – Pitching Probables:
Thursday: LHP Kenny Anderson (5-4, 5.87 ERA) vs. RHP Justin Hageman (5-2, 3.00 ERA)
Friday: RHP Nathan Bates (1-2, 5.01) vs. RHP Josh Bartley (5-4, 4.76)
Saturday: TBA vs. Jake Thompson (4-3, 4.02)

What’s at Stake?
Georgia State: The Panthers, for the most part, control their own destiny, as they hold the 8th and final tournament spot as of right now. If they get the sweep, they’re in and the Tops fall way far down the bracket. The Panthers must avoid a WKU sweep. If Georgia St. gets one win, they’d need Arkansas St. and South Alabama to win two games. If the Panthers get two wins, they need Troy to sweep South Al.

Western Kentucky: The Tops already have their sights set for Mobile, but come into this final series riding a four game losing streak. The most recent three losses hurt the most, as they came to UT-Arlington last weekend, and it allowed WKU to switch 3rd and 4th place with the Mavericks. So, while a couple of weeks ago there was the possibility of a 2nd seed in the tournament, the Tops need just a single win over the weekend and they’ll clinch the #5 seed.

What Happened Last Time?
WKU met up with the Panthers in Atlanta after dropping two in a row to the Georgia Bulldogs back in March, and the Tops took the final two games of the weekend series (both coming on Saturday, as the threat of weather moved the Sunday game into a Saturday double header). All three of the games were decided by one run (game 1 – 5-6 GSU. Game 2 – 4-3, game 3 – 6-5 (10 innings) WKU) and that was to open conference play. Conference tournament births and seedings are on the line, and neither team is going to give the other anything. The Hilltoppers ended that March weekend with 32 hits, and Ryan Church provided some good pop, going yard twice.

Farewell Seniors
This series will mark the final time Austin Clay, Regan FlahertyHagemanDavid Simmons, Thompson and Scott Wilcox will play with the W on their cap, as the seniors will help bring a close to the Sun Belt era. Wilcox will look to continue his iron man mark, as coming into the weekend he has started 169 consecutive games for Matt Myers.

Hopefully WKU can put early ends to the games in this series, as they have played in 17 one-run games this year. If today, tomorrow and Saturday end with a one-run advantage for either side, the Hilltoppers would have tied the record of 20 games set both in 1991 and last year.