MIAMI, Fla. — WKU Baseball pitchers Eric Crawford and Dalton Shoemake combined to
allow only two runs across eight innings, but the Hilltoppers were unable to solve
FIU starter Logan Allen, falling by a score of 2-1 to the Panthers on Friday night.
FIU took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, as second baseman Derek Cartaya led off
with a single to the right side and moved to third base on a pair of passed balls.
With one out, three-hitter Austin Shenton lined a single into right field off
Crawford to knock Cartaya home.
Crawford — a Bradenton, Fla., native — struck out a career-high seven batters,
scattering four hits and five walks across 4.1 frames. He stranded five Panthers in
four complete innings, including the bases loaded in the fourth when he struck out
shortstop John Rodriguez looking on a 1-2 pitch.
The Hilltoppers posed a scoring threat in the fifth frame, as second baseman Jack
Wilson and catcher Matt Phipps led off with back-to-back singles. But the next three
hitters were set down by Allen to keep the WKU slate clean.
Another two Hilltoppers reached in the seventh — left fielder Ray Zuberer via hit by
pitch and pinch hitter Richard Constantine — but Allen was able to wriggle out of
another jam and strand both of the WKU runners.
Meanwhile, Shoemake — who relieved Crawford with one out in the fifth — completed
the final 3.2 frames of one-run ball, striking out two while hitting two batters and
allowing only two hits. Unfortunately, one of those hits was a solo homerun by FIU
first baseman Javier Valdes in the sixth that pushed the Panther lead to 2-0.
At 106 pitches entering the ninth, Allen had posted eight scoreless innings. Right
fielder Jake Sanford — who had been 0-for-3 coming into the at-bat — lined a leadoff
single that was misplayed by the right fielder, allowing the ball to roll to the
wall and Sanford to fly into third base.
The next Hilltopper up was designated hitter Dillon Nelson, who was able to lift a
sacrifice fly that scored Sanford. WKU was unable to extend the rally, however, as
Allen got the 26th out and reliever Jan Figueroa completed the 27th for a 2-1
victory for the home team.
“I’m proud of our club. I like they way we played with focus and intensity, we just
couldn’t get much going offensively and FIU found a way. We had to match [Allen]
pitch-for-pitch and I thought we competed on the mound. Eric Crawford and Dalton
Shoemake both went out there and gave us an opportunity to win.” — Head coach John
WKU and FIU will play Game 2 on Saturday with first pitch at 5 p.m. CT. Lefty Troy
Newell will get the ball for the Hilltoppers, while righty Nick MacDonald is
expected to throw for the Panthers.