BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Coming off its first Conference USA series win, WKU Baseball has another challenge waiting in the wings. The Hilltoppers travel to Louisville to face the No. 2 Cardinals on Tuesday night, with first pitch at 5 p.m. CT.
WKU boasts a 69-66 all-time advantage against the Cardinals, but lost both ends of a home-and-home series in 2016. The Hilltoppers last defeated Louisville by a score of 7-3 on April 22, 2015, at Jim Patterson Stadium, when they got out to a 7-0 advantage and hung on for the four-run victory against the No. 3 team in the country.
Current Hilltoppers Hunter Wood, Paul Murray and Leiff Clarkson started in the field and combined to go 3-for-12 with two runs scored and two batted in. Relievers Kevin Elder, Jackson Sowell and Ben Morrison pitched four innings of one-run ball with three strikeouts. WKU scored all seven runs – five earned – against Cardinals’ starter Lincoln Henzman, who is now used primarily as their closer.
“These in-state rivalries are always fun, playing Louisville or Kentucky, EKU or Murray State,” the senior Wood said. “We’ve played with and against a lot of guys who are on Louisville. It’s good to see and compete against them, and it’s always a strong turnout by the fans.”
In a rivalry series in Murfreesboro from March 24-26, the Hilltoppers returned home from the three-game set by taking 2-of-3 following a 4-2 victory Sunday afternoon.
Thomas Peter went 6-for-13 in the series with five runs scored and six batted in. He had the first multi-homerun game of his career in Friday night’s 10-3 win, driving in four WKU runs. Colie Currie has hit in 11-of-12 games, raising his season batting average from .213 to .301 during that span. The center fielder continued the hot streak in his home state with a 7-for-12 weekend, which included five runs scored and a homerun.
“This past weekend at Middle Tennessee was a step in the right direction, and obviously this is a great challenge for us against a solid Louisville team who is playing as well as anyone in the country,” head coach John Pawlowski said. “In-state rivalries are great for college baseball and our team really enjoys going into a tough environment like that.”
Louisville, meanwhile, started the season 19-0 until they lost consecutive games this past week 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 to remain at No. 2 in the www.D1Baseball.com rankings for the second straight week.
Two-way player Brendan McKay leads Louisville at the plate and on the rubber as a weekend starter. The junior is slashing .412/.543/.647 in 94 plate appearances, while boasting a 4-1 record on the bump with a 1.12 earned run average and 55 strikeouts in 32 innings. But the Hilltoppers will not face McKay on the mound, as the Cardinals are likely to throw Bryan Hoeing or Michael McAvene; both of whom are righties.
WKU’s starting pitcher 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.