NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Within three outs of securing a win at No. 5 Vanderbilt, WKU
Baseball saw the Commodores tie the game in the ninth and walk it off in the 10th by
a score of 5-4 on Tuesday night.
“I’m really proud of our guys and the way they competed. We played really
tough, hard-nosed against one of the better clubs in the country … I know
they’re frustrated, but if they play with that level of intensity and that level
of focus, they can beat any team in the country on any given night.” head coach
John Pawlowski said. “Just a frsutrating ending to it for a number of different
reasons, but we’ll move forward from here.
“Gotta hit the road to MTSU, which will be a great challenge.”
Starter Jack Lambert went a career-high 4.1 innings on 89 pitches — including 55
strikes — and allowed only two earned runs. He allowed five hits and walked three,
but was able to pitch out of a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the second
while allowing only one run.
The Hilltoppers led 2-1 at that point, after back-to-back two-out, RBI doubles by
shortstop Kevin Lambert and third baseman Sam McElreath put two on the board for the
visitors. That was after infielder Jack Wilson had led off the top of the second
inning with his ninth two-bagger of the year.
WKU added another run in the third when designated hitter Dillon Nelson grounded
home Davis Sims after the first baseman led off with a double and moved to third on
a ground out.
Jack Lambert got one out in the fifth, but allowed one run and saw the potential
game-tying score on second base when head coach John Pawlowski went to the bullpen.
It was righty Bailey Sutton who came in the game and was able to strand the
Vanderbilt baserunner, getting a line out and strikeout to escape the frame with a
After the Hilltopper offense went nine-up, nine-down from the 5th-to-7th innings,
left fielder Ray Zuberer III got things started from the top of the lineup in the
The junior from Owensboro worked a nine-pitch walk after facing an 0-2 count, then
Sims lifted a single to left field to put a pair of runners on base for right
fielder Jake Sanford.
The back-to-back reigning Conference USA Hitter of the Week — having doubled in the
first inning to break a 16-inning streak of no extra-base hits allowed by Commodore
starter Mason Hickman — forced a move to a lefty from the bullpen.
With a 1-2 count, Sanford grounded an opposite-field single that raced Zuberer home
180 feet from second base for a 4-2 lead.
Sutton and righty Jacob Green were able to hold Vanderbilt scoreless in the eighth,
with Green coming in with runners on the corners and only one out to strand both of
After WKU was retired 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth, Green trotted out on the mound
to try and close it out. Third baseman Austin Martin led off with a solo homerun to
bring the Commodores within one, then right fielder J.J. Bleday hit the game-tying
shot — his 12th of the season — against lefty Dalton Shoemake to make it a 4-4
Shoemake was able to retire the next three batters to get the game to extra innings
— a situation where the Hilltoppers had been 2-0 on the season — but again the
offense went down in order in the 10th.
Righty Maddex Richardson began the bottom of the frame and the Vanderbilt lineup
circled back around to Bleday with two outs and the bases loaded. This time, the
reigning SEC Co-Player of the Week blooped a single to center field for the
game-winning hit, as the Commodores claimed the 5-4 win.
* Via @VandyNotes, this was the first extra-inning game between WKU and
Vanderbilt since March 20, 1976, which was a 10-inning, 8-7 win by the
* WKU held a Commodore offense that was averaging 8.5 runs per game coming into
the contest to five runs.
* The Hilltoppers fell to 2-1 in extra-inning games, 4-1 in walk-off wins, 6-3
in one-run games, 8-3-1 when scoring first, 10-6-1 when holding the opponent
scoreless in the first inning and 12-6-1 when the opponent starts a righty.
* Hickman had entered the game on a 24-inning scoreless streak and allowed a
season-high four runs against the WKU offense. The righty had allowed six
extra-base hits in 30 innings, and the Hilltoppers tallied five doubles in the
first three innings. Hickman did end up tallying nine strikeouts and tied a
career-high with seven complete innings.
* Sims extended his team-high on-base streak to 23 consecutive games with a
2-for-4 performance at the plate with one runs scored. It was his team-best 12th
multi-hit game of the season to push his season slash line to .362/.443/.505.
* Sanford went 2-for-4 at the dish with his team-best 43rd run batted in of the
season. It was his 11th multi-hit game of the year, moving his slash line to
.385/.452/.881. He also tied a career-high with five put-outs in right field.
* Kevin Lambert went 2-for-4, recording a multi-hit game for the fourth time in
the past five contests. During that stretch, he has gone 9-for-17 with two
doubles, five runs scored and five driven in, increasing his batting average from
.176 to .236.
* With three scoreless innings, Sutton has now worked 10.2 consecutive scoreless
frames out of the WKU bullpen. During that stretch — that started on March 16 vs.
UAB — he has allowed only nine base hits and three walks while striking out 12.
WKU travels back down through The Music City to take on Middle Tennessee in a
three-game series from April 6-8. The Friday-to-Sunday Conference USA set in
Murfreesboro, Tenn., will have first pitch times of 6 p.m., 4 p.m. and 1 p.m.,
respectively. The Blue Raiders will start righty Carson Lester, lefty Peyton
Wigginton and righty Zach Keenan. The Hilltoppers’ starters are TBA at this time.