BILOXI, Miss. — WKU Baseball had waited four years for this game, so what was a few
In a 2019 Conference USA Tournament contest that started at 10:31 p.m. and ended at
1:46 a.m., the Hilltoppers defeated Old Dominion by a score of 7-4 to advance to the
second round and remain in the winner’s portion of the bracket.
“I wanted to go out there and do my best, try to get as many outs as I can and
throw strikes. I think they were mostly guessing off-speed — I threw a lot of
off-speed the first time I faced them — so we tried to get that fastball in there.
Honestly, I wasn’t focused on how the other games ended, I was just focused on
this game,” Sophomore pitcher Dalton Shoemake said.
With the win, WKU will face No. 1 seed Florida Atlantic for a scheduled 7:30 p.m.
start on Wednesday, May 23. The Hilltoppers had the same time slot on Tuesday, but
with two of the three prior games going into extra innings, the first pitch was
bumped back three hours.
“When you play the last game of the day you never know how they’re going to
handle what we’re up against. We didn’t know how late we were going to play, but
that’s typical tournament baseball and we responded very well. We played hard,
pitched it well and played good defense, and whenever you do that you have a
chance to win,” head coach John Pawlowski said.
Starter Reece Calvert set down the first two Monarchs of the game but was touched up
for a solo homerun off the bat of Vinnie Pasquantino that gave Old Dominion early
1-0 lead, which held until the bottom of the fourth frame.
Monarch starter Nick Pantos hit designated hitter Richard Constantine with the first
pitch of the inning, then All-Freshman center fielder Jackson Swiney singled to
right field on the first pitch he saw to put a pair of Hilltoppers on base.
Catcher Matt Phipps and third baseman Sam McElreath followed with RBI doubles to
give WKU a 2-1 lead, then first baseman Jack Wilson came up with a two-run single to
push the advantage to 4-1 and increasing his two-out RBI total to 18 on the season.
The next hitter, left fielder Ray Zuberer III, took a hanging 1-2 changeup from
reliever Michael Blanchard over the fence in right-center field for a two-run
homerun and a 6-1 lead. It was the 10th homerun of the Owensboro native’s career on
The Hill, including his sixth of the season, five of which have come in the past 14
Apparently not satisfied with Zuberer tying his season total of six long balls,
Constantine led off the fifth frame with his seventh dinger of the year. It was a
solo shot for the junior from Huntsville, Ala., to push the WKU advantage to 7-1. It
was the second dinger of the game against Blanchard, who had not allowed a homerun
all season coming into the contest.
After blanking Old Dominion from the 2nd-to-5th frames, Calvert allowed a leadoff
walk and RBI double to Pasquantino and was pulled for reliever Jacob Green. Although
the righty allowed the inherited runner to score on a pair of wild pitches, the
Hilltoppers escaped only giving up two runs as their lead stood at 7-3.
Lefty Dalton Shoemake started the seventh frame and gave up a pair of hits —
including an RBI double by Bryce Windham to cut the lead to 7-4 — but that’s all the
damage the Glasgow native would allow the rest of the game. He set down the final
eight Monarchs in order, racking up a career-high six strikeouts in the process for
the three-inning save.
After the two-bagger, Shoemake did not allow a ball to leave the infield and struck
out the side swinging in the top of the ninth. After two of the previous three games
at MGM Park featured blown leads of at least three runs, the lefty mowed down Old
Dominion for the second-straight outing to cut any potential late-inning drama from