BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — In his first career appearance on the Nick Denes Field mound,
freshman Hunter Crosby pitched five innings and allowed only one run in WKU
Baseball’s 9-5 victory over Murray State on Wednesday evening.
The righty struck out three – all looking – and faced only three batters over the
minimum while throwing 38-of-63 pitches for strikes. Crosby gave way to the bullpen
with a 6-1 lead going into the sixth frame, earning his first-career win as the
Hilltoppers never relinquished the lead the rest of the game.
The Dickson, Tenn., native is WKU’s first freshman pitcher to start a game and earn
a win while pitching five-plus innings since Ryan Thurston threw seven innings of
three-run ball at Austin Peay in a 6-5 victory over the Governors on April 29,
The Hilltoppers took a 3-0 lead in the second, with left fielder Ray Zuberer III
starting the inning with a triple off the right-field wall. Infielder Jack Wilson
followed with a run-scoring single, then infielder Sam McElreath drove in a run with
a bloop double down the left-field line.
WKU added two more runs in the fourth, aided by a Murray State throwing error,
McElreath brought home the sixth WKU run in the fifth after Crosby allowed his only
tally of the game in the top half of the frame.
Freshman center fielder Jackson Swiney painted the right-field line with a two-out,
line-drive, RBI-double to give the Hilltoppers a 7-1 lead in the seventh, his second
hit of the game and third time on base to go along with being hit by pitch.
Facing his former team, infielder Davis Sims grounded a two-run single up the middle
in the eighth to cap the WKU scoring with runs right and nine. Although the Racers
scratched across one run in the eighth and three in the ninth, reliever Eric
Crawford was able to get the final three outs in his team-leading fifth appearance
of the season to clinch the 9-5 win.
In perhaps the best outing of his two-year Hilltopper career, righty Jacob Green
spun perfect sixth and seventh innings in relief of Crosby. The senior struck out
three and threw 15-of-20 pitches for strikes. So far this season, Green has 11
punchouts in six innings, allowing only four hits and one walk with one run for a
1.50 earned run average.
Reliever Thomas Cessna made his Hilltopper debut on the mound, allowing one earned
run on one hit. Pitching with a 7-1 cushion in the eighth, the righty pounded the
zone, throwing 15-of-20 pitches for strikes.
The WKU pitching staff walked only one batter for the first time since April 21 of
last season at UAB, a span of 21 games in-between. The Hilltoppers threw a
season-low 123 pitches, with 84 of them (68.3 percent) going for strikes, while the
Racer hurlers threw 107-of-170 (62.9 percent) pitches in the zone.
Making every start in center field so far this season, Swiney finds himself leading
qualified WKU hitters with a .360 batting average and .485 on-base percentage. The
St. Louis, Mo., native also leads the team with four times hit by pitch, to go along
with three walks compared to only four strikeouts.
In all, seven WKU players in the lineup scored at least one run and had at least one
hit, while five Hilltoppers drove in at least one run.
“The biggest thing for us was for our guys to come out and stay focused and play
with a lot of intensity, and I thought we did that right from the start. We were
locked in and had some quality at-bats to start the game, and I thought we carried
that throughout the whole game.” — Head coach John Pawlowski.
“I thought Hunter Crosby did a great job in his second collegiate start, couldn’t
ask for more. Also, Jackson Swiney was on base three times. So both of those
[freshmen] did a great job for us today.” — Head coach John Pawlowski.
“My first start it was a little nerve-wracking, but this one I was a lot more
confident. You just throw a lot of strikes, that’s the main goal, and the ball plays
itself.” — Freshman righty Hunter Crosby.
The Hilltoppers travel to Pensacola, Fla., for the 2019 Cox Diamond Invitational
from March 1-3, which includes neutral-site games against North Florida, Louisiana
Monroe and Tennessee. All three games will have live stats and audio from the
Hilltopper-IMG Sports Network. Fans who plan to make the trip can purchase tickets