MIAMI, Fla. — A first-inning homerun by Davis Sims set the tone, two three-run
homeruns by Jake Sanford put the game out of reach and a complete-game masterpiece
by Reece Calvert clinched a 15-1 victory for WKU Baseball on Sunday afternoon over
“Davis Sims gave us a jump start right out of the gate and put some runs on
the board. Then you have a guy like Jake Sanford, what a tremendous day he had.
That homerun in the second inning really got us going,” head coach John Pawlowski said.
“Defensively, Kevin Lambert went in the hole several times and made some really nice plays for us.”
The Hilltoppers won for the second-straight day, clinching a 2-to-1 series win over
the Panthers to improve to 5-1 in Conference USA play. It matches WKU’s best start
in league action since 2013, when the Hilltoppers also swept a home series (vs.
Middle Tennessee) before traveling to Miami to take 2-of-3 from FIU.
WKU jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the very first frame, courtesy of Sims’ third
homerun of the season and 20th of his career and an RBI ground out by Richard
Constantine that scored Sanford after he reached on an error by starting pitcher
The Panthers threatened to tie it up or more in the bottom of the first, as the home
team scored one and loaded the bases with two outs against Calvert. But the righty
was able to get shortstop John Rodriguez to fly out to right field to keep the
Hilltoppers ahead, 2-1.
After that it was Sanford’s show.
It started with a two-out walk by Ray Zuberer III in the second frame. Then, Sims
fell behind 0-2 but worked back to a 2-2 count, including a wild pitch that moved
Zuberer to second. The Panthers then made the move to intentionally walk Sims to put
a pair of runners on base for Sanford.
It only took one pitch for FIU to regret that decision, as Sanford flicked a
line-drive homerun down the left-field line to put the Hilltoppers ahead by a score
Two innings later, Sanford hit another three-run homerun — this one a moon shot to
right-center, that sailed straight through the crosswind — that scored Zuberer and
Sam McElreath, who had reached on singles.
Overall, Sanford produced a career day 3-for-5 with two homeruns, one double, five
runs scored and seven batted in.
With the score now 8-1, Calvert kept up his end of the bargain and continued to mow
down Panther hitters. From the second-to-seventh inning, the Plano, Texas, native
faced the minimum of 18 batters. He did allow a pair of hits, but one FIU baserunner
was erased on a pickoff and another was caught stealing.
After WKU scored two in the sixth and five more in the seventh to push their lead to
15-1 — across the 10-run threshold — Calvert closed out the seventh with his fourth
1-2-3 inning of the afternoon and his first-career complete game. In all, he threw
60-of-88 pitches for strikes with three punch outs, all looking.
* Sanford’s 10 total bases were the most by a Hilltopper since Jacob Rhinesmith
had 12 vs. West Virginia on March 10, 2018. His five runs scored were the most
since Jared Andreoli also had five at Vanderbilt on March 16, 2010. His seven runs
batted in were the most since Matt Hightower also had seven vs. Albany on March 1,
* Sanford now has nine homeruns on the season and a .765 slugging percentage to
lead all C-USA hitters, while his 18 extra-base hits (eight doubles and one
triple) are tied for first and 27 runs batted in rank third.
* Calvert’s complete game was the first by a Hilltopper since Paul Kirkpatrick’s
complete-game, four-hit shutout in a 4-0 win at Rice on March 25, 2018.
* Sims finished 2-for-3 with a season-high three runs scored and two walks. For
the season, he leads qualified WKU hitters with a .356 batting average and ranks
second to Sanford with his three long balls and eight extra-base hits (five
* Catcher Matt Phipps had the other three-hit game for WKU, going 3-for-5 with
three singles and one run batted in. Following a 4-for-4 game on Saturday night,
Phipps has raised his batting average from .265 to .325 in the span of two games.
* WKU tied a season-high with 16 hits and set a new standard with three team
homeruns and 27 total bases. Meanwhile, Sanford’s multi-dinger day was the first
for the Hilltoppers since Rhinesmith had two on March 10, 2018, vs. Bowling
* It was the first run-rule victory for WKU since a 17-2 win — also at FIU — on
April 19, 2015.
* WKU allowed only seven runs in the series, the fewest allowed in a three-game
series since March 25-27, 2016, vs. Middle Tennessee, when the Hilltoppers allowed
* Since allowing 46 runs in a four-game stretch from March 7-13, the WKU
pitching staff has allowed only 24 in the past seven contests, lowering the team
earned run average from 6.41 to 5.44 in that time.
The Hilltoppers head back into non-conference play on Tuesday, March 26, when the
team travels north to Richmond to take on Eastern Kentucky. There will be a 3 p.m.
CT first pitch at Earle Combs Stadium.