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Kirkpatrick goes the distance in Toppers’ 4-3 win

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — In his first Division I start in his home state, Paul
Kirkpatrick pitched a complete game and led WKU Baseball to a 4-3 victory over UTSA.
The righty from Austin retired 15-of-16 batters to cap the game with five scoreless
frames as the Hilltoppers hung on to a one-run lead and evened the Conference USA
series.

Thomas Peter sparked a two-out rally in the first inning when he flared a single
over the head of the third baseman, and Hunter Wood followed by drawing a four-pitch
walk. On a 3-2 pitch with the runners on the move, first baseman Nathan Methvin
laced a double down the right-field line to score both.

But the Roadrunners responded with two of their own in the bottom half. With runners
on first and second to lead off the inning, Kirkpatrick seemed to escape damage when
Bryan Arias lined to second baseman Tyler Robertson, who tapped the base to his
right for a double play. But Ben Brookover, the next man up, hit a two-run shot to
left field to set the contest back to square one.

Wood led off the third inning with a towering solo homerun to right-center field,
his fifth of the season, to give WKU (11-21, 4-7) its lead back. Two frames later,
UTSA put the tying run across once again with an RBI groundout by Mason George with
runners on the corners.

The Hilltoppers’ righty put the clamp down there, however, holding the Roadrunners
scoreless with only one baserunner for the rest of the game.

WKU took the lead for good in the sixth inning, when Wyatt Featherston was hit by a
pitch to lead off the inning and Kevin Lambert bunted him to second. UTSA (15-15,
5-6) then made a pitching change from its righty starter Tyler Giovanoni to lefty
reliever Karl Craigie to face Bryson Smith. The Hilltoppers’ freshman – making his
first-career start at third base – hit an RBI liner up the middle for the eventual
game-winning run.

“We challenged our club, because today’s game was about nothing more than pride,”
head coach John Pawlowski said. “Last night they ambushed us pretty good early and
we never really recovered. But turning the page today, I think this was our most
complete defensive game all year and that was exciting to see, supporting what Paul
Kirkpatrick did on the mound.”

Topper Notes
1. Paul Kirkpatrick had previously boasted the longest start by a WKU starter
this season (8.1 innings vs. Ohio on March 4), but set a new high mark by
finishing all 27 outs. It was the first complete game by a Hilltopper since Justin
Hageman on March 21, 2014, in a 4-1 win vs. Texas State.
2. Hunter Wood hit his first homerun since WKU’s C-USA opener vs. UAB on March 18
in the first game of a doubleheader. In league play, 6-of-7 hits off the senior
catcher’s bat have been for extra bases. The only single by Wood in C-USA action
came in the ninth inning on a bouncer up the middle, making for his eighth
multi-hit game of the season.
3. Tyler Robertson reached base three times for the second straight game, going
1-for-2 with two walks; he stole a base in the third inning and was caught trying
to swipe second in the fifth. Kaleb Duckworth stole his team-leading seventh bag
of the year, while Colie Currie increased his on-base streak to 11 games with an
opposite-field triple in the second inning – his team-best fourth three-bagger.
4. By out-hitting the Roadrunners 7-to-6, the Hilltoppers improved to 8-0 when
amassing more hits than their opponents this season.

Play of the Day
Not only did WKU not commit an error on the afternoon, the hosts made a handful of
spectacular plays in the field to help Paul Kirkpatrick earn the victory. Most
notably…

* Tyler Robertson made a sliding stop on a ground ball to his left to end the
first inning.
* Bryson Smith made a leaping stab at a chopper down the left-field line and
threw to first for the out in the second frame.
* Hunter Wood made a sliding catch on a foul pop behind home plate to begin the
fifth.
* Nathan Methvin made a catch on a foul pop as he reached over the wall down the
right-field line to begin the sixth.
* Kevin Lambert made a diving stop on a one-hopper to his left and threw to
first for the final out of the seventh.

What’s Up Next
The Hilltoppers look for their third series win of the season Sunday with first
pitch against the Roadrunners at 12 p.m. The hosts will send a southpaw, Steven
Dressler, to the mound, while WKU’s starter remains TBA at this time.

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

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