BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — The Conference USA season starts this weekend for WKU Baseball,
who hosts rival Middle Tennessee for a Friday-to-Sunday series at Nick Denes Field.
First pitch on March 16 between Hilltoppers and Blue Raiders will be at 5 p.m., with
game times Saturday and Sunday both at 1 p.m. The Friday and Sunday contests will be
streamed on CUSA.tv.
WKU has won 15-of-18 games vs. Middle Tennessee in Bowling Green since 2008. Of
those six series, three were sweeps and three were 2-1 victories.
The Hilltoppers have faced the Blue Raiders more than any other opponent in program
history. WKU boasts a 125-103-2 advantage, and the upcoming series will mark the
231st, 232nd and 233rd matchups between the two clubs.
In 2017, the Hilltoppers took 2-of-3 in Murfreesboro. WKU won Game 1 by a score of
10-3 with a six-run second inning and three more in the sixth. Thomas Peter had two
homeruns and four RBI, while Colie Currie, Kevin Lambert and Leiff Clarkson all had
multi-hit games. Lefty Ryan Thurston pitched 6.1 innings of three-run ball with six
strikeouts, then Kevin Elder completed the final 2.2 frames scoreless to clinch the
In Game 2 on Saturday, the Hilltoppers scored three runs in the ninth inning to take
a 9-6 lead, but the Blue Raiders tied it up in the bottom half with three of their
own. In the 10th, a thunderstorm halted play and forced the contest to be completed
Sunday morning. When play resumed, Middle Tennessee won, 10-9, in the 11th inning on
a Riley Delgado RBI single.
In the series finale, WKU earned a 4-2 victory with 7.2 innings from starter Evan
Acosta, who allowed only one earned run, and the final four outs from Elder. Peter
went 3-for-4 on the day, including the eventual game-winning, bases-clearing double
in the seventh frame to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead. Currie recorded his
third multi-hit game of the series.
The Hilltoppers enter C-USA play on the heels of a sweep in their previous weekend
series vs. Bowling Green. It was WKU’s first sweep of a non-conference opponent
since Southern Illinois in 2015.
Pitchers Ryan Thurston, Colby Taylor and Paul Kirkpatrick each went 5.2-plus innings
on earned wins in their starts. It was the first time since March 25-27, 2016, vs.
Middle Tennessee that the Hilltoppers swept a series while getting wins from three
That same trio will toe the rubber for the fourth-consecutive weekend, with WKU
going a combined 7-4 in their 11 starts this season. The Blue Raiders will respond
with lefty Jake Wyrick, righty Carson Lester and lefty Peyton Wigginton.
Middle Tennessee comes in matching the Hilltoppers with a 9-8 overall record. Last
weekend, the Blue Raiders hosted West Virginia – who swept WKU at Nick Denes Field
the prior week – and took 1-of-3 games from the Mountaineers. And just like WKU,
Middle Tennessee has also won 1-of-3 against Memphis this season.
Shortstop L.A. Woodard leads the Blue Raiders in hitting, slashing .360/.484/.480 in
14 starts. Infielders Aaron Aucker (four homeruns, six doubles) and Drew Huff (five
homeruns, five doubles) lead the team with 10 extra-base hits apiece.