BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU Baseball responded after another early deficit on Sunday
afternoon, but ultimately fell to Memphis by a score of 10-4. The Tigers completed
the series sweep despite a 4-for-5 performance at the plate from right fielder Jake
Sanford and infielder Davis Sims’ second homerun of the season.
“Our guys are competitive, but it just came down to execution and we just
didn’t execute in a lot of different phases of the game this weekend,” head coach
John Pawlowski said. “We’ve played a lot of different guys, tried different guys
in different roles. We’ve learned a lot, but also know we have a lot of work yet to do.”
Lefty Dalton Shoemake made his second start in as many weeks, but was tagged for
eight hits — seven singles — and six runs in 3.1 innings. Halfway through the game,
the Hilltoppers trailed 8-1 before making some noise in the bottom of the fifth.
Shortstop Kevin Lambert — who went 2-for-3 and was 1-of-4 WKU hitters with multiple
knocks on the day — started the inning with a line drive into right-center. He
trotted home on Sims’ one-out homerun, which scurried into the Hilltoppers’
left-field bullpen on a 1-2 pitch from Memphis starter Chris Durham.
“They pretty much just outplayed us — pitching, defense and offense — give them
credit, they have a good [team] … I love how even though we’re going through
this tough time, we’re staying together and we’re a family. That’s all that
matters right now,” Shortstop Kevin Lambert said.
Then, after Sanford lined his second double of the day off the center-field wall,
designated hitter Dillon Nelson slapped a hit back up the middle to make it an 8-4
game. The rally did not look like it would stop there, as infielder Jack Wilson
knocked a two-out single to put runners on the corners for catcher Matt Phipps.
The Tigers made a pitching change to righty Bailey Wemberly, who Phipps greeted with
a 3-2 line drive to right-center field. WKU would have scored two more runs with
Wilson running on the pitch, but right fielder Keith Stepter made an otherworldly
diving catch to rob the Hilltoppers and maintain a four-run lead for the visitors.
WKU would get no closer, as the game went scoreless in the sixth and seventh frames
before Memphis added one more in each of the eighth and ninth innings.
* Sanford failed to hit a homerun for a fifth-straight game, but his four-hit
day was the first of 2019 by a Hilltopper. In the three-game series against the
Tigers, Sanford slashed .462/.500/1.077 with four extra-base hits, four runs
scored and four batted in. At the time this article was published, his .722
slugging percentage and 12 extra-base hits (seven doubles, one triple and four
homeruns) both ranked second in Conference USA.
* Sims extended his team-high hit streak to 10 games with his homerun. It was
the Paducah native’s first at Nick Denes Field and 19th of his collegiate career.
For the season, his .333/.373/.519 slash line is catching up to his .333/.403/.552
mark over the past two seasons at Murray State.
* Nelson recorded his third-straight multi-hit game, going 2-for-5 with two runs
batted in. In the three-game series against Memphis, Nelson slashed
.538/.538/1.000 with four extra-base hits, six runs batted in and three scored.
* Phipps recorded the other multi-hit game for WKU, going 2-for-4 with a pair of
singles to left field. The diving grab by Stepter robbed the junior of his first
extra-base hit since Feb. 24 vs. Eastern Illinois.
* Wilson reached base in 3-of-4 plate appearances, with a hit by pitch, single
and walk in the game. He currently leads the Hilltoppers with a .381 batting
average and .481 on-base percentage overall this season.
WKU will travel to Lexington on Wednesday to face in-state and SEC foe Kentucky. The
Wildcats stand at 11-4 overall after a three-game sweep of the Hilltoppers’ C-USA
rival Middle Tennessee over the weekend, including both ends of a doubleheader on
Sunday. “Big Blue” is 8-1 at newly-constructed Kentucky Proud Park, a $49 million
facility completed just prior to the 2019 season. The game will begin at 3 p.m. CT;
WKU fans can follow along on the SEC Network + live stream and listen to the
broadcast on the Hilltopper-IMG Sports Network.