NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kaleb Duckworth hit his second homerun of the season and freshman reliever Bailey Sutton pitched two scoreless innings, but WKU Baseball (2-2) lost to Belmont by a score of 11-3 on Wednesday evening.
The Bruins (1-3) scored in each of the first three innings to take a 5-0 lead, which lasted until the top of the sixth when Duckworth came to bat for the third time. Just like his walk-off on Opening Day, the right fielder took a first pitch fastball and took it out to left field.
Duckworth’s hit seemed to spark the Hilltoppers, who led off the next inning with back-to-back doubles off the bats of Kevin Lambert and pinch hitter Hunter Wood to get another run on the board. Paul Murray pinch hit a batter later and used a sacrifice fly to bring Wood home and bring WKU within two runs, at 5-3.
But the Hilltoppers would not get any closer, as the Bruins added one run in the bottom half of the seventh and then five more in their final at-bat.
1. A pair of freshmen pitchers made their WKU debuts on the evening. Jeff Ciocco got the start – the first for a true freshman since Logan Weins on May 3, 2015 at Middle Tennessee – and went 2.0-plus innings with three runs allowed. Brett Vansant began the eighth inning on the mound for the Hilltoppers.
2. Bailey Sutton and Conner Boyd each made their third scoreless appearances of the season. Sutton completed the fourth and fifth innings, working around a few baserunners by striking out the side in the fifth. Boyd relieved Evan Acosta with the bases loaded and got Brennan Washington to strike out swinging. In his three appearances, Boyd has gotten 7-of-7 batters out, while stranding 8-of-8 inherited runners.
3. Wyatt Featherston and Marshall Smith also made their WKU debuts. Featherston pinch-hit in the ninth inning and was hit by a pitch on the second one he faced. Smith came in as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning with his brother, Bryson Smith, and the two recorded back-to-back assists on ground balls to start the inning.
Play of the Day
With Belmont runners on first and second in the second frame, Nick Egli hit a line drive to Hilltoppers’ third baseman Kevin Lambert. The freshman reached up quickly to snag the liner, then threw to second basema Ray Zuberer III to double off Rafael Bournigal. The Hilltoppers also turned a 6-4-3 double play in the bottom of the fourth.
What’s Up Next
WKU hosts another Ohio Valley Conference opponent, Jacksonville State, for a three-game series at Nick Denes Field from Friday, Feb. 24 to Sunday, Feb. 26. The Gamecocks began their 2017 season by taking 2-of-3 games from Conference USA foe FIU in Miami, then had a scheduled midweek game Tuesday, Feb. 21 at Auburn rained out. Starting pitchers for both teams are TBA at this time.
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