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Thurston strikes out 8 in series-opener loss to No. 25 Southern Miss

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Despite seven innings of three-run ball from starter Ryan Thurston, WKU Baseball fell to No. 25 Southern Miss by a score of 6-1 on Friday night at Nick Denes Field. The lefty allowed only four hits while striking out eight, but the Hilltoppers were unable to get a run across until the ninth frame.

With two outs in the first inning, Thurston thought he had Hunter Slater struck out looking on a curveball that hovered near the strike zone, but it was called a ball and the left fielder walked on the following pitch. Two batters later, the Golden Eagles’ Matt Wallner doubled in a pair of runs to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the second with that same score, Steven Kraft singled up the middle and Colie Currie doubled to put runners on second and third, but WKU was unable to get either across. A similar situation came up for the Hilltoppers in the fifth, when Kevin Lambert singled and Thomas Peter doubled, but Southern Miss starter Kirk McCarty was able to escape without any damage on the scoreboard.

Currie and Peter had their 11th and 10th multi-hit games of the season, respectively, and totaled 5-of-9 hits on the day for WKU.

Trailing 6-0 in the bottom of the ninth, the Hilltoppers started a rally with an infield hit from Currie sandwiched in-between pinch hits from Paul Murray and Marshall Smith. Also a pinch hitter, Nathan Methvin drove in the team’s run on a productive groundout to the Golden Eagles’ first baseman.

Topper Notes
1. Shortly before first pitch, catcher Hunter Wood was named to the 2017 Johnny Bench Award Watch List. The senior from Mt. Washington is slashing .287/.380/.511, leads WKU with 19 runs batted in and is tied for the team lead with 12 extra-base hits.
2. One of the criteria for the award is the catcher must start behind the plate in at least 75 percent of the team’s games; Wood has put on the gear for 23-of-28 contests, while also starting one as designated hitter. The backstop has caught 9-of-28 runners trying to steal, but that number stands at 9-of-20 in non-conference play.
3. Wood lined out to Kirk McCarty in the first inning, as the Southern Miss pitcher reached up on a shot through the box to rob the catcher of a base hit. He reached base on an E5 in the eighth inning and went 0-for-4 in the game.
What’s Up Next
The Hilltoppers and Golden Eagles begin the month of April with game two of the series, with first pitch at 1 p.m. at Nick Denes Field. Paul Kirkpatrick will take the ball for WKU, while Hayden Roberts will oppose him from the Southern Miss side.

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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