BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — What was a 1-1 game after the third inning ended up a 17-run
victory for WKU Baseball thanks to a big swing by junior catcher Matt Phipps and a
stellar relief outing by sophomore lefty Dalton Shoemake. The Hilltoppers defeated
visiting NKU by a score of 19-2 on Sunday afternoon, clinching a series sweep and a
3-0 record to start the 2019 season.
Shoemake relieved starter Reece Calvert in the top of the third, inheriting a
bases-loaded jam and a 1-0 WKU lead. Although he walked in a run to begin his
appearance, the lefty got the next Norse batter to pop into a double play to end the
threat and keep it a tie game. The Glasgow native would face the minimum over his
next four frames of work, with only one hit allowed – then inducing a 5-4-3 double
play on the next pitch – and five strikeouts.
He threw 36-of-61 pitches for strikes, and the Hilltoppers had a 19-1 lead by the
time he was replaced on the mound to begin the eighth inning.
Phipps was perfect in five plate appearances, going 3-for-3 with two walks. He
scored two runs and drove in four, including three that came on a homerun in the
fourth inning to cap a seven-run frame and push the lead to 9-1. A nine-run seventh
inning accounted for the other bulk of WKU runs. The Hilltoppers sent 12 to the
plate in the fourth and 13 to the dish in the seventh.
Designated hitter Richard Constantine was also perfect in the box, going 3-for-3
with three walks. He scored three runs and drove in two, including an RBI single
into left field that gave WKU a 1-0 lead in the opening frame.
In all, three other Hilltoppers had multi-hit games, six others had multi-run games
and three others had multi-RBI games. Second baseman Joey Schwartz was the other
Hilltopper to draw a pair of walks.
* It was the first opening-series sweep for WKU since defeated Bowling Green
three times to open the 2011 season. That year, the Hilltoppers started out 5-0
with wins over Lipscomb and Kansas State that followed.
* The WKU offense went 16-for-39 at the plate with 10 walks and five times hit
by pitch, reaching base at a 31-for-55 clip as a team. The 19 runs were the most
scored by the Hilltoppers at Nick Denes Field since a 20-7 win over VCU on March
* WKU hit seven doubles for the first time since May 10, 2014 at UT Arlington,
and the Hilltoppers were hit by pitch five times for the first time since March
12, 2016 vs. Albany.
* Freshman center fielder Jackson Swiney’s three hits tied for most on the team,
while infielder Jack Wilson’s threes runs scored and four driven in tied for a WKU
* “To get that Friday night win and Saturday in that extra-inning game, the big
test was how our guys were going to respond today after winning the first two.
They came out very professional, work-like attitude in preparation for a tough
challenge today. I thought Reece Calvert did a good job, Dalton Shoemake threw the
ball very well, and can’t say enough about what our offense did, they were
outstanding today.” — Head coach John Pawlowski.
* “When I came here everybody had the mindset that we’re going to win, and that
just showed this weekend. I loved everybody’s energy in the dugout, it was great.
It was a good overall weekend for us.” — Infielder Davis Sims.
* “I just have to thank all my teammates, the first game I kind of struggled my
first three at-bats but I tried to stay locked in throughout all three games. I
just tried to stay with my approach in the middle of the field, find pitches and
drive them. For my confidence, this puts me on the right track.” — Catcher Matt
The Hilltoppers travel to Lipscomb on Tuesday, Feb. 19 for a 4 p.m. game against the
Bisons. Lipscomb split its first two games against visiting Valparaiso before the
series finale was canceled a few innings into the contest on Sunday due to inclement
weather. WKU has a 42-38-1 all-time record against the Bisons. The teams did not
play last season for the first time since 2010.