MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — A six-run second inning vaulted WKU Baseball to an eventual 10-3 victory over Conference USA rival Middle Tennessee on Friday night. Thomas Peter launched the eventual game-winning homerun, a three-run shot to left field in that second frame to put the Hilltoppers ahead 6-0, and added a solo shot in the ninth inning for the cherry on top.
It was the first road win of the season for WKU (8-15, 2-2), who had four multi-hit and three multi-RBI performances from six different players throughout the lineup. Lefty Ryan Thurston won his third game of the season, allowing three runs on eight hits in 6.1 innings with six strikeouts. Kevin Elder relieved Thurston and got the final eight outs in scoreless fashion.
Following a quiet first inning for both teams, the Hilltoppers had five hits and a walk in the second en route to a six spot. With two outs, Tyler Robertson kept WKU alive with an RBI single to left field, scoring Leiff Clarkson, to bring up Peter. On the first pitch of his at-bat, the right fielder took Blue Raiders’ starter Jake Wyrick deep off the Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium facade.
Middle Tennessee (8-13, 0-4) responded with three runs over the next two frames, but Thurston limited the potential damage by stranding three runners.
Kaleb Duckworth – leading off for the second straight game – singled with the bases loaded in the sixth to extend the lead to 8-3, and Robertson followed by reaching on a fielder’s choice that scored a ninth run.
1. The bottom third in the WKU order – Colie Currie, Kevin Lambert and Leiff Clarkson – combined to go 7-for-10 with five runs scored. It was Clarkson’s first multi-hit effort of the season, yet the 34th of his career, which leads all current Hilltoppers. Currie led the team with three hits – his second such game of the season; the center fielder has base knocks in 9-of-10 games, raising his batting average from .213 to .282 in that span.
2. Thomas Peter has multi-hit games in 4-of-5 contests since the start of C-USA play on March 18 in the UAB doubleheader. Of those eight hits, four have gone over the fence; the senior had one homerun in his first 17 starts. It was Peter’s first-career multi-homerun game, and the third by a WKU player this season – matching Hunter Wood vs. Jacksonville State on February 25 and Steven Kraft at Eastern Kentucky on March 8.
3. In Ryan Thurston’s six starts, the Hilltoppers boast a 5-1 overall record. The lefty has not allowed more than four earned runs in any of those contests, while striking out at least five in every one. Thurston reached a season-high 111 pitches and was relieved by Kevin Elder for the fifth time. Elder fell one out shy of his second three-inning save, but was still able to finish his third game and post his third straight scoreless appearance.
Play of the Day
After falling behind 0-2 in his first plate appearance on his 22nd birthday, Hunter Wood watched the next four pitches for a walk with one out in the second. Middle Tennessee lefty Jake Wyrick appeared to have Wood picked off during the next at-bat, but the nimble catcher eluded the tag at second base and slid in safe with a stolen base. With that, WKU avoided the second out of the inning and five of the next six batters had base knocks in what turned out to be a six-run inning. Wood also led off the sixth inning with a walk and scored during the Hilltoppers’ three-run frame.
What’s Up Next
Saturday’s contest at Reese Smith Jr. Field has been moved up to 12 noon due to potential inclement weather. It will be a battle of righties, as Paul Kirkpatrick will spin it for the Hilltoppers, while the Blue Raiders come back with Tyler Hasper.
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