BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Halfway between Opening Day and the start of Conference USA play, WKU Baseball hosts the Ohio Bobcats for a three-game series March 3-5 at Nick Denes Field. The Friday, Saturday and Sunday contests begin at 3 p.m., 1 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.
The Hilltoppers (3-6) have gone 3-3 through their first two weekend series of the season against Valparaiso and Jacksonville State, and will lead off with Friday starter Ryan Thurston once again. The lefty from Madison, Indiana, took a no decision vs. Valpo – giving up four runs in 4.2 innings – and a tough loss vs. JSU, when he surrendered only two earned runs in 5.2 innings. He leads the staff with 13 strikeouts through the first nine games of the season.
Paul Kirkpatrick will follow Saturday afternoon, as the righty will make his second straight start in the second series game. Kirkpatrick posted WKU’s first “quality start” of the year Feb. 25, when he allowed only two earned runs, struck out two and walked none in six innings, picking up the win in the team’s 14-4 victory over JSU. In that game, senior catcher Hunter Wood had a career day; hitting two homeruns with six runs batted, to go along with a pair of walks and three runs scored.
The Hilltoppers boast a 7-2 series advantage over the Bobcats, with all nine games being played in Bowling Green. The two clubs have not faced off since 2006, however, when WKU took 2-of-3 from Ohio in a weekend series Feb. 24-26 at Nick Denes Field.
Ohio comes into town with a 5-4 overall record, all neutral-site contests. This past week, the Bobcats split a four-game series vs. SIU-Edwardsville, then lost to Alabama State, on Tuesday by a score of 12-6, with all five games played in Emerson, Georgia.
The visitors are expected to throw Gerry Salisbury, Butch Baird and Michael Klein this weekend in that order. Ohio’s three weekend starters have combined for a 2-0 record with a 2.30 earned run average in six starts, but the Bobcats’ bullpen owns a 5.92 ERA in its 51.2 innings. Klein also serves as the team’s designated hitter, leading Ohio with five extra-base hits and a .326/.350/.553 slash line through nine games.
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