MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Despite five strong innings from Opening Day starter Ryan Thurston,
WKU Baseball dropped its first game of the season to Memphis by a score of 4-0 on
Saturday afternoon. The senior lefty allowed only one earned run and struck out
seven, with 57-of-91 pitches going for strikes.
It was a scoreless game going into the bottom of the third, when Thurston walked
Alec Trela with the bases loaded for the Tigers’ first run of the game. He exited
after five strong, keeping the Hilltoppers within reach, which they were almost able
to do the following frame.
To begin the inning, Steven Kraft worked a leadoff walk on a 3-2 pitch, then Jacob
Rhinesmith singled up the middle to put multiple runners on base. After a Chase
Larsen sacrifice bunt, Ray Zuberer III walked on four pitches to load the bases. But
Memphis brought in righty Takoda Metoxen to relieve starter Riley Cabral and he
struck out two to end the threat.
The Tigers (1-0) recorded their final three runs in the seventh inning before WKU
(0-1) righty Michael Martin capped the night with 1.2 perfect innings while facing
only four batters, aided by a Colin Butkiewicz caught stealing.
* Thurston allowed fewer than two earned runs in a start for the first time
since his 10-inning, scoreless gem vs. FIU on April 30, 2016 – a span of 17 starts
in-between. Meanwhile, it was his third career road start going five-plus innings
and allowing fewer than two earned runs, and the first since his eight-inning,
one-hit masterpiece at Indiana on April 16, 2014.
* Thurston has stuck out seven-plus batters in 12-of-29 starts dating back to
the start of the 2016 season. On Saturday, he recorded two punchouts in each of
the first two frames, while striking out one in each of the other three innings.
* Six different Hilltoppers recorded a base hit, including two apiece by
Butkiewicz and Rhinesmith. Those two – along with Larsen and Dillon Nelson –
picked up their first hits at the Division I level after transferring to WKU from
the JuCo ranks.
* Zuberer reached base all three times at-bat – two walks and a base hit –
before he was pinch-hit for in a lefty-lefty situation in the eighth inning.
Butkiewicz and Rhinesmith were the other two WKU players to reach base at least
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