CHARLOTTE, N.C. — WKU Baseball trimmed a four-run deficit to one, but ultimately
fell to Charlotte by a score of 6-4 on Saturday afternoon. Jacob Rhinesmith hit his
12th homerun of the season, drove in two and scored a pair of runs.
It was scoreless through two courtesy of Hilltopper lefty Ryan Thurston and 49er
righty Matt Brooks. Thurston was able to strand five runners in the first two frames
with two strikeouts to end the first and two more to end the second.
But Thurston was unable to side-skirt baserunners in the third, as Charlotte put up
a three-spot, started by a leadoff walk and base hit to left field. The ball never
left the infield after that, but the 49ers (27-19, 13-10) opened up the scoring on a
bunt squeeze and added another on a failed attempt at a fielder’s choice at the
Charlotte made it 3-0 on a two-out throwing error that allowed Dominick Cammarata to
score from second base.
Rhinesmith took an 0-1 pitch over the right-field wall to get the Hilltoppers on the
board in the fourth, his first long ball in Conference USA play since April 7 at No.
13 Southern Miss.
The 49ers added two more in the fifth off Thurston with two outs, as Todd Elwood and
Zack Smith contributed RBI singles up the middle. Righty Jacob Green came in to
replace the starter in the frame and got the third out after a chopper back to the
Colin Butkiewicz tallied his 19th two-out RBI of the year when he singled in
Rhinesmith in the top of the sixth to make it a 5-2 game. The catcher’s line-drive
hit to left-center score the center fielder, who had singled through the right side
to begin the inning.
WKU brought the deficit to one in the seventh, when Steven Kraft doubled in Kevin
Lambert with zero outs. It was Kraft’s team-leading 11th two-bagger of the season,
while Lambert extended his team-high hit streak to seven games with an infield
single to lead off the frame.
Rhinesmith followed with a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Luke Brown from
third to cut the score to 5-4. With two outs and Kraft on the move, Colie Currie
lined a grounder up the middle that would have tied the game, but it hit the foot of
pitcher Matt Horkey, who recovered to get the out at first base.
Charlotte upped its lead to 6-4 in the bottom of that frame with a hit apiece off
Green and reliever Austin Tibbs. But with the bases loaded and one out, righty
Michael Darrell-Hicks came in from the bullpen to strike out Reece Hampton and
Jackson Mims to strand the three remaining runners.
The Hilltoppers (20-26, 10-13) got the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning
after Kraft legged out a two-out infield single, but reliever Jonah Patten got
Rhinesmith to hit a comebacker for the 27th out.