BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU Baseball clinched its second Conference USA series of the
season, defeating Marshall by a score of 7-5 on Sunday afternoon. The Hilltoppers
improved to 4-1 in the final game of league series, as freshman Luke Brown tallied a
season-high three hits.
With their 17th victory of the season, WKU has eclipsed its win total from a 16-39
record in 2017. With the team’s seventh Conference USA victory of the season, the
Hilltoppers have surpassed their league win total from a 6-24 record in 2017.
After senior lefty Austin Tibbs shut out the Thundering Herd in the top of the
first, WKU (17-18, 7-8) responded with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the
Steven Kraft led off with a five-pitch walk, the Jacob Rhinesmith skidded a single
through the left side. Three-hitter Colie Currie ripped a double down the
right-field line to score Kraft and put two runners into scoring position. Tyler
Robertson followed with his league-leading sixth sacrifice fly of the year to push
the early lead to 2-0.
Tibbs allowed a two-out, RBI single to Geordon Blanton that allowed Marshall to get
back to 2-1, but the Hilltoppers responded with another two runs in the second
With one out and the bases loaded, Rhinesmith grounded into a fielder’s choice that
drove home a run. During the play, Herd second baseman Peter Hutzal committed his
third error of the series when he threw the ball into the visitor’s dugout while
trying to turn a fruitless double play, and a second WKU run scored, making it 4-1.
Marshall scored another two-out run in the third, to bring the score to 4-2, when
reliever Conner Boyd allowed one of Tibbs’ inherited runners to score on a Kody
Matthews single. The starter’s day was done after 2.2 frames. The senior lefty
allowed six hits – all singles – and threw 34-of-49 pitches for strikes.
WKU added three more runs – all on sacrifice flies – in innings five and six. Colin
Butkiewicz, Nick Brunson and Currie all recorded the productive outs and the hosts
took a 7-2 lead into the top of the ninth.
Working on 2.2 brilliant innings with a season-high four strikeouts, reliever Jacob
Green tried to close it out with the save, but allowed three straight baserunners
with two outs to go.
In came closer Ben Morrison in a 7-3 game; with the game-tying run in the on-deck
circle, it was a save situation. The senior threw 12 pitches – all for strikes – and
allowed a pair of base hits that scored the inherited runners, but caught Dakota
Robbins looking to end the game with a 7-5 victory for his career-high seventh save
of the year.
Righty Michael Martin earned the win, throwing 1.1 scoreless frames with a
season-high four strikeouts. It was Martin’s first victory as a Hilltopper and the
second in his collegiate career.
* The Hilltopper pitching staff struck out 12 while issuing only one walk, the
highest differential of the season. WKU has walked one or fewer batters in six
games, and is 5-1 in those games.
* The Hilltopper lineup walked three times and struck out only three times,
tying a season-low for the third time. In the three games WKU has only struck out
three times, the team is 3-0. For the series, the hosts drew 21 walks and struck
out 15 times.
* The Hilltoppers improved to 13-4 when scoring first, and 7-1 when only WKU
scores in the first inning.
* WKU won the series despite being out-hit in all three games. The Hilltoppers
improved to 4-12 when having fewer hits than their opponents, while they were 4-33
in such situations in 2017.
* There were zero long balls hit by either team in the series for the first time
this season. WKU improved to 9-12 when not hitting a homerun and 13-5 when not
allowing a homerun.
* Steven Kraft posted his second straight multi-run game of the season from the
leadoff spot, running his season total to six and career total to 23. He also
notched his 10th multi-hit game of the season and 42nd of his Hilltopper career.
* The senior second baseman went 2-for-4 with a walk, pushing his season slash
line to .367/.492/.469; he ranks third in C-USA in batting average and second in
* Luke Brown went 3-for-4, increasing his batting average to .333 (19-for-57) in
* Colie Currie recorded his second straight multi-RBI game, pushing his
team-leading RBI total in C-USA play to 13. He has 23 RBI this season in 31 games
after driving in 26 in 2017 in 54 starts.
* “This is a great win for us. We knew coming in we had to win this series, so
to take 2-of-3 from Marshall, who’s a very good team, is really good. Going into
next week playing UAB, we’ll have a lot of confidence.” — Outfielder Luke Brown
* “After losing that close game Friday night, we were able to bounce back and
today was a big win for the Tops. It’s never easy, Marshall has an outstanding
team and kept battling. Luckily, Ben did a great job and he’s the guy we want out
there to shut the door.” — Head coach John Pawlowski
Owners of the nation’s longest win streak, Tennessee Tech, come to Nick Denes Field
for a midweek matchup on Tuesday, April 17. WKU will face the challenge of a Golden
Eagles’ team that stands at 29-5 and has won 20 consecutive games. First pitch will
be at 5 p.m.