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Evan Acosta’s stellar start leads Toppers to victory

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Behind a career-best pitching performance from Evan Acosta and timely hitting of Thomas Peter, WKU Baseball rallied to defeat Middle Tennessee by a score of 4-2 on Sunday afternoon.

The Hilltoppers (9-16, 3-3) were able to respond with a win in the rubber match after dropping the second game of the series 10-9 in 11 innings, continuing the game from Saturday afternoon when it was suspended due to inclement weather.

With two quick outs in the top of the first, Peter ripped a double down the left-field line and scored on a single through the middle by Steven Kraft. But the Blue Raiders came back in the bottom half to tie the contest at 1-1 on an RBI single from Austin Dennis.

Middle Tennessee (9-14, 1-5) added an unearned run off Acosta in the fourth frame, but that was all the hosts would get across the rest of the way. The Batavia, Illinois, native finished with eight hits allowed in 7.2 innings pitched, with three strikeouts and zero walks. He threw only 87 pitches – 65 of them strikes – before he was relieved by Kevin Elder in the eighth.

Trailing 2-1 after six innings, Colie Currie and Kaleb Duckworth drew walks off Blue Raiders’ starter Cody Puckett, while Tyler Robertson reached on an error to load the bases for Peter with two outs. The right fielder grounded the first pitch through the left side to score two, while an errant throw by Middle Tennessee catcher Aaron Antonini allowed a third to come across.

Elder and Acosta combined to put up the final three zeroes against their C-USA rivals, with Elder getting four outs to earn his second save of the season.

“After the first one today, I told our team we need to flush this and move ahead,” head coach John Pawlowski said. “In the final game, they were up 2-1 for a large part of it but we caught a couple breaks and we were able to come through with three runs in an inning. And that ended up being enough to win a very, very hard-fought three-game set.”

Play of the Day
After the Toppers went ahead 4-2, Middle Tennessee came out in the bottom seventh poised to respond. Devin Conn reached on an error to lead off, then Blake Benefield singled to left and represented the tying run on base. But Evan Acosta clamped down, as he caught a pop out on a bunt attempt, then got Riley Delgado to bounce into an inning-ending 4-3 double play to end the threat.

What’s Up Next
WKU’s final Power Five opponent of the regular season is on the schedule Tuesday, March 28, when the team travels to Louisville to face the No. 2 Cardinals. The ACC club started the season 19-0 until they lost consecutive games at Cincinnati and Friday night at NC State. But the Cardinals finished the weekend series against the Wolfpack with two wins, improving to 21-2.

How to Follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Hilltopper Baseball, follow the program via social media @WKUBaseball on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook.

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