HOUSTON, Texas — For the second straight weekend, closer Ben Morrison secured a
three-inning save to protect a slim lead, as WKU Baseball earned a 5-4 victory at
Rice on Saturday afternoon. Morrison allowed only one hit over the last three frames
and tied a career high with six strikeouts, helping the Hilltopper bullpen shut out
the Owls after the fourth.
Colie Currie had a career-high three doubles and scored two runs, while Richard
Constantine and Tyler Robertson also notched three-hit performances. Robertson hit
his fourth homerun of the season to highlight a four-run top of the first inning.
WKU defeated Rice for the first time as Conference USA members. The Hilltoppers had
lost 11 consecutive games to the Owls, with the most recent wins being March 9 and
10 in 1990.
Currie got things going with an opposite-field double on the very first pitch of the
game from Rice starter Kendal Jefferies, matching WKU’s hit total from Friday
night’s 4-0 loss instantaneously. After Jacob Rhinesmith singled him home, Robertson
hit a towering two-run homerun over the left-field fence to give the Hilltoppers a
But the long ball was not a rally killer for the visitors, as consecutive singles by
Ray Zuberer III, Constantine and Luke Brown brought in a fourth run before the Owls
even grabbed the bats.
WKU starter Colby Taylor stranded six Rice baserunners in the first three innings,
allowing only one run in the process. Then the Hilltoppers added their fifth run in
the top of the fourth when Steven Kraft singled in Currie, who made something out of
nothing with a two-out ground-rule double.
The bullpen mastery began in the bottom of that inning, when Taylor gave up a
two-run homerun to Andrew Dunlap and then two more hits brought in another run that
cut the WKU lead to 5-4.
With runners on first and second and one out, lefty Evan Acosta came in out of the
bullpen to strand both of the Owls and hold the lead.
The next inning, righty Michael Martin returned the favor to Acosta when Rice had
runners on the corners and two out. The graduate transfer from UC Irvine walked Trei
Cruz to load the bases, but then got three-hitter Braden Comeaux to pop out to Kraft
at second base.
After Martin pitched a scoreless sixth, in came Morrison for what ended up being a
three-inning save, protecting a one-run lead the whole time. The Bowling Green
native struck out the side – all swinging – in the seventh, pumping his fastball up
to 95 MPH.
He allowed a one-out double to Comeaux in the eighth, but then stranded him on a
pair of punch outs. It was a clean ninth, with two ground outs to shortstop Kevin
Lambert and a swinging strikeout for the 27th out and a 5-4 win for the
* It took Ben Morrison 41 pitches – 30 strikes – to get the final nine outs. On
March 18 vs. Middle Tennessee, Morrison earned a four-inning save on 46 pitches –
35 strikes. His six strikeouts tied a career high, previously achieved April 28,
2015, against Austin Peay.
* Colie Currie came into the game with two doubles through 22 games and upped
that number to five in his first four at-bats. He was the lone Hilltopper to score
twice, his 15th career multi-run game. It was the seventh time in Currie’s WKU
career that he knocked a career-high three hits.
* Richard Constantine started at designated hitter for the first time since the
fifth game of the season. He responded with a three-hit game, which also marked
his first multi-hit game on The Hill.
* Luke Brown had a pair of hits, as did Jacob Rhinesmith. The freshman Brown
recorded his fifth RBI, while Rhinesmith notched his team-leading 23rd of the
year. The JuCo transfer from Indian Hills Community College has put up 12
multi-hit games in the first 23 contests.
* Relievers Evan Acosta and Michael Martin had nearly identical – and equally
effective – appearances out of the bullpen. Both faced stranded two inherited
runners, faced six hitters, hit one and retired four. Acosta allowed a base hit
while Martin issued a walk. Acosta recorded his second straight scoreless
performance, while Martin did not allow a hit for the fifth consecutive outing.
WKU and Rice will both be gunning for their first C-USA series win of the season, as
Hilltopper righty Paul Kirkpatrick is set to go up against Owl righty Addison Moss.
First pitch of the rubber match is a 1 p.m. start at Reckling Park, WKU is 3-1 this
season when Kirkpatrick starts the game.
The last time the Austin, Texas, native pitched in the Lone Star State, he tosses a
complete game April 8, 2017, at UTSA in a 4-3 win against the Roadrunners. It was
the first complete game by a Hilltopper since Justin Hageman on March 21, 2014, in a
4-1 win vs. Texas State.