BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Colin Butkiewicz’s two-out, bases-loaded double broke a
ninth-inning tie, giving WKU Baseball an 8-5 comeback victory at UAB in Game 2 of
the Saturday doubleheader. The catcher went 2-for-4 in the contest with a
season-high four RBI, leading the Hilltoppers to a series win over the Blazers.
In Game 1 in the afternoon, UAB pitchers Tyler Gates and Matthew Calvert combined
for a five-hit shutout of the Hilltoppers. Butkiewicz also led WKU in the 5-0 loss,
going 2-for-4 at the plate.
WKU’s Paul Kirkpatrick got the starting nod for the ninth time this season. He and
UAB starter Tyler Gates matched zeroes through the first three frames before the
Blazers struck in the bottom of the fourth.
UAB strung together six hits, along with one hit by pitch, as the hosts posted a
five-run inning. Kirkpatrick got two outs in the frame before he was lifted for
Conner Boyd with a pair of runners still on base. Boyd struck out Carter Pharis to
limit the damage, but UAB’s 5-0 lead was enough for the remainder of the game.
The Hilltoppers loaded the bases in the top of the ninth, but a line out to center
field by the pinch hitter Chase Larsen was the 27th out.
Senior righty relievers Boyd and Devon Loomis combined to throw 4.1 scoreless frames
to cap the afternoon, allowing only one hit and two hit by pitches to the final 15
Looking for runs in the rubber match, Nick Brunson provided a pair in the top of the
second. On a 2-0 pitch from starter Ryan Ruggles, the junior lined a two-out triple
off the center-field wall that scored Ray Zuberer III and Luke Brown to give the
Hilltoppers the 2-0 lead.
WKU starter Evan Acosta walked four in the first three frames, but still carried a
no-hitter into the bottom of the fourth. But to start that inning, Carter Pharis hit
a solo homerun over the left-field fence.
The Blazers tied the game off Acosta later in the frame, when Price Visintainer
doubled in Stephen Dobbs, who also doubled. Reliever Jacob Green came in and got a
swinging strikeout for the third out, but not before UAB pushed it to a 2-2 tie.
Colin Butkiewicz came through with a two-out, two-run hit of his own in the sixth,
with a single to center field that scored Colie Currie and Zuberer. But in the
bottom half of the inning, pinch-hitter Thomas Johns hit a three-run homerun off
Green to give the Blazers a 5-4 lead, their first of the contest.
Behind seven straight UAB batters retired by Austin Tibbs and Ben Morrison, the
Hilltoppers were able to keep the deficit at one, which turned out to be crucial
with the top of the WKU order due up in the ninth inning.
Steven Kraft led off with a double to right field off UAB reliever Carson Jones, who
started his fifth inning of work. With Jacob Rhinesmith and Currie due up next, the
Blazers went to lefty Ty Harris, but he walked Rhinesmith and hit currie with a
pitch to load the bases.
Tyler Robertson, who had struck out earlier in the game with the bases loaded, came
through with his league-leading seventh sacrifice fly of the season to tie the game
at 5-5 off new reliever, righty Ryan Wesson.
Two batters later, with two outs and the bases loaded once again, Butkiewicz roped a
1-2 breaking ball off the right-field wall to score a pair and give the Hilltoppers
a 7-5 lead. Then, on the first pitch to Chase Larsen, Wesson bounced a wild pitch
that allowed Luke Brown to score an eighth run.
Morrison went back out in the bottom of the ninth to finish it out, and he struck
out two in a scoreless frame to clinch the 8-5 win and series victory for visiting
* WKU improved to 8-8 on the road, with the team clinching its second
come-from-behind win away from home.
* WKU held UAB to five runs in each of the series’ three games, as the team
improved to 16-8 this season when holding a team to five runs or fewer.
* WKU came into the series with five runs scored in the ninth inning all season,
and the team scored three in Friday’s win and four in Saturday’s win.
* WKU came into the series with a 1-7 record in night games (starting at 5 p.m.
or later), tallying only 2.1 runs and 5.8 hits per game. The Hilltoppers went 2-0
at UAB in a pair of night games, scoring 21 runs while swatting 33 hits.
* WKU played errorless baseball all series, with zero miscues on 108 chances in
the field. WKU has not committed an error in a season-best four straight games, as
the overall team fielding percentage sits at a .974 mark.
* WKU won its first game of the season when allowing two-plus homeruns,
improving to 1-7 in such contests.
* Winning pitcher Ben Morrison improved to 2-1 in Conference USA play, tossing
2.2 scoreless and hitless frames with four strikeouts. In six league appearances,
the senior righty has allowed only two earned runs in 14.2 innings, with 18
strikeouts compared to only two walks and nine base hits.
* Steven Kraft and Ray Zuberer III led the team with seven hits over the
weekend. Kraft extended his team-high hit streak to eight games, while Zuberer
extended his team-best on-base streak to 11 games.
* Meanwhile, Luke Brown, Colin Butkiewicz and Colie Currie each had six. As a
team, the Hilltoppers hit .333 (38-for-114). Butkiewicz led the team with seven
RBI over the weekend, pushing his season total to 21.
WKU travels to Louisville for a midweek matchup against the ACC club. The
Hilltoppers and Cardinals face off on Tuesday, April 24, with first pitch from Jim
Patterson Stadium at 5 p.m. CT.