BILOXI, Miss. — Ahead 7-5 with two outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the
sixth, WKU Baseball allowed the next five UTSA batters to reach and the No. 8 seed
scored three runs to take an 8-7 lead it would never relinquish.
Eventually clinching a 15-8 win, the Roadrunners eliminated the Hilltoppers from the
2019 Conference USA Tournament on Friday night in Biloxi, Miss., and WKU’s 100th
Season on the diamond came to a close with a 26-29-1 record.
“Endings are never easy, when it’s final it’s very difficult. We just talked
about how proud we are as a group, as a staff, as a program of what these guys
accomplished this year. At some point we needed to break the ice and make a spot
in the Conference USA Tournament and this was the year we did that,” head coach
John Pawlowski said. “I talked to the seniors first and told them how they’ve left their mark here.
They’ll always be remembered as the first group to help get us to this tournament,
which is important. And the guys who will be back need to use this is a motivating
factor to play on this stage.”
After not qualifying for the Conference USA Tournament in their first four years in
the league, the Hilltoppers earned a spot with a 16-13-1 record as the No. 4 seed.
The team won a game in a conference tournament for the first time since a 7-4
victory on May 26 in the 2012 Sun Belt Tournament over Louisiana Monroe.
Right fielder Jake Sanford went 4-for-5 with a walk, while left fielder Ray Zuberer
III went 1-for-4 with two walks and tied a career-high with three runs scored. The
Owensboro native hit his seventh dinger of the season in the fourth inning to become
the first league player to hit two homeruns this week at MGM Park.
Designated hitter Richard Constantine went 3-for-5 and first baseman Jack Wilson
went 3-for-6 at the plate; each Hilltopper scored a run. Freshman center fielder
Jackson Swiney reached base four times on a career-high three walks and his 10th hit
by pitch of his rookie season.
Seniors Nick Brunson, Reece Calvert, Joe Filosa, Jacob Green and Troy Newell played
their last games in a WKU uniform this week in Biloxi; they became the first elders
to lead the Hilltoppers to an appearance in the league’s tournament.
* Sanford’s 2019 campaign was one of the best in program history. Starting all
56 games while playing every single inning in the outfield, the Dartmouth, Nova
Scotia, native slashed .398/.483/.805 with 88 hits, 178 total bases, 22 homeruns,
20 doubles, 66 runs batted in and 65 scored. He also walked 33 times and stole six
* Sanford’s 66 runs batted in and 65 scored both finish ninth on WKU’s
single-season charts, while his 22 homeruns are fifth. His 88 hits just finished
shy of cracking the top 10, with Danny Hudzina (2016) and Matt Rice (2010) tied
with 89 knocks apiece. His 20 doubles also just finished shy of the record books,
as three Hilltoppers are tied for eighth with 21 two-baggers.
* With the 2019 MLB Draft approaching, Sanford was recently rated by MLB
Pipeline as the No. 108 overall
outfielder among eligible players. The event will take place from June 3-5, with
the first two rounds as well as competitive balance and compensatory picks on Day
1. Rounds 3-10 will be on Day 2, with rounds 11-40 on Day 3.