BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU Baseball suffered its second loss of the season to in-state
rival Kentucky, as the Wildcats defeated the Hilltoppers by a score of 15-4 on
Tuesday night at Bowling Green Ballpark.
“It was competitive for half the game, but the second half Kentucky did a
great job. They got themselves in really good hitting counts, we left some balls
up in the zone and they put some great swings on it. If you do that against
anybody — especially a team like that — they’re going to swing the bats well,”
head coach John Pawlowski said. “We have to get ourselves ready to go this weekend.
We’re right in the thick of things in Conference USA — we kind of control our own
destiny — and we’re in the position to play well and go to Biloxi. As the season
goes on, the games get more important and more challenging, which will be fun for our group.”
Right fielder Jake Sanford went 4-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored,
pushing his slash line to a season-high .423/.500/.885. It was his fourth four-hit
game of the year and 14th multi-run game of the season. Entering the day, a .885
slugging percentage would lead the nation, while a .423 batting average would rank
sixth. He also has 138 total bases that would rank second, 66 hits that would rank
seventh and 51 runs that would rank eighth.
Visiting Kentucky (21-20) hit six homeruns — including three by right fielder Ryan
Johnson — that accounted for nine of the team’s first 11 tallies. The Wildcats
matched their run output in the first head-to-head matchup, which was a 15-0 win at
Kentucky Proud Park on March 21.
Through four innings it was a 2-1 game, with righty Jeff Ciocco and lefty Jack
Lambert holding Kentucky to two runs on four hits through the first four frames. WKU
got on the board when first baseman Jack Wilson led off the bottom of the fourth by
working an 11-pitch walk and Sanford followed with a single to the gap that put
runners on the corners. Designated hitter Dillon Nelson grounded a single into left
field to score Wilson, but the remaining two Hilltoppers were stranded by starter
The Wildcats hit three solo homeruns and scored a run on a wild pitch over the next
two frames to extend their lead to 6-1 before the WKU offense got going again in the
bottom of the sixth. This time, it was a leadoff single by Wilson followed by a
double into the right-field corner by Sanford that put a pair of runners in scoring
position for Nelson. The junior from Omaha, Neb., came through with a sacrifice fly
to right-center that scored Wilson and moved Sanford to third, and he would later
score on a wild pitch.
The 6-3 deficit would be as close as the Hilltoppers (18-20-1) would get, however,
as Kentucky scored nine runs over the final three innings. Sanford doubled with one
out in the eighth for his fourth hit of the night and later scored on a two-out, RBI
single by shortstop Kevin Lambert.
* WKU fell to 7-3 all-time at Bowling Green Ballpark, including 4-2 against
Kentucky. After winning their first six games at the venue, the Hilltoppers have
lost three of the past four.
* Wilson went 1-for-3 and recorded his seventh multi-run game. He extended his
hit streak to a season-high six games and has also reached base in eight straight
contests. The Elizabethtown native’s .316/.432/.416 slash line ranks second among
active WKU hitters.
* Nelson went 1-for-3 and recorded his eighth multi-RBI game. He became the
second Hilltopper to reach to 30-RBI mark, as he ranks second on the team to
Sanford’s 55 runs batted in.
* Lefty Drew Strohm made his first appearance since March 21 — the last game
against Kentucky — and tossed 0.2 scoreless frames. In the fifth action of his
season, the St. Louis, Mo., native tossed his second scoreless outing.
WKU travels to San Antonio, Texas, to take on C-USA foe UTSA. The three-game,
Friday-to-Sunday set will have first pitch times of 6 p.m., 2 p.m. and 12 p.m. The
Roadrunners currently stand eighth in the league with an 8-10 record, compared to
the Hilltoppers’ fourth-place standing with a 9-8-1 mark.