MIAMI, Fla. — As 1-of-3 teams who went through the first weekend of Conference USA
action with a sweep and a 3-0 record, WKU Baseball looks to keep a perfect mark as
the team faces its first road series of the season at FIU. The Friday-to-Sunday
series between the Hilltoppers and Panthers will have first pitch
times of 6 p.m., 5 p.m. and 11 a.m. CT, respectively.
* FIU holds a 35-32 advantage in the all-time series and is 9-3 across four
series since WKU joined C-USA prior to the 2015 season.
* The Hilltoppers are 12-17 on the road against the Panthers overall.
* WKU has an 8-9 record against FIU in games played in the month of March.
* Since first meeting in 1999, the Hilltoppers and Panthers have played every
season except 2014.
* In the 20 series, each team has three sweeps, but FIU has won nine other sets
while WKU has taken five.
* In Sun Belt Tournament meetings, the Hilltoppers have a 4-3 advantage over the
* The Hilltoppers are coming off their first sweep to begin league play since
defeating Middle Tennessee three times from March 15-16, 2013, to open the Sun
Belt portion of the schedule. It was the team’s first sweep of a C-USA opponent
since defeating UTSA three times from April 22-24, 2016.
* After allowing 15 runs to Kentucky in a midweek game on Wednesday, March 13,
the WKU pitching staff rebounded to allow only 12 runs in the entirety of the
series vs. UAB. It was the fewest runs allowed by the Hilltoppers in a home C-USA
set since holding Middle Tennessee to six runs in a series sweep from March 25-27,
* On Friday, right fielder Jake Sanford hit WKU’s first walk-off homerun since
Kaleb Duckworth’s two-run shot on Opening Day 2017 to give the Hilltoppers a 6-5
victory over Valparaiso.
* On Saturday, WKU rallied from a 5-0 deficit in the top of the first to keep
the Blazers scoreless for the rest of the game, winning on a walk-off hit by
designated hitterr Dillon Nelson.
* On Sunday, WKU turned a 5-4-3 triple play to end the fourth inning. It was the
team’s first triple play since Austin Peay hit into a 3-4 lineout against the
Hilltoppers on April 14, 2009.
* Sanford launched a solo homerun to right-center field in the eighth inning
against the Governors, becoming the second-straight Hilltopper to hit seven long
balls within his first 20 games of the season, matching center fielder Jacob
Rhinesmith. The future 18th round MLB Draft pick of the Washington Nationals hit
his seventh homerun in the 16th game of the 2018 campaign.
* WKU is 8-4 this season when holding opponents to six or fewer runs and 9-1
when scoring five or more runs.
* The Panthers enter the series with a 10-10 overall record and a 1-2 mark in
over the weekend to the Thundering Herd, and then another to the Seminoles in
* Top hitters for FIU include left fielder Lorenzo Hampton, Jr. (.351/.412/.581
slash line with a team-high 11 extra-base hits and 17 runs scored) and first
baseman Javier Valdes (.269/.449/.500 slash line with seven extra-base hits and a
17-to-9 walk-to-strikeout ratio). Meanwhile, third baseman Austin Shelton and
right fielder Adan Fernandez boast batting averages under .250, but have combined
for nine homeruns in 20 games.
* In an oddity, the Panthers have also turned a triple play in the past week. In
the bottom of the sixth at Florida State, a Seminole batter attempted a sacrifice
bunt with runners on the move from first and second. He popped up a 1-1 pitch to
the first basemen, who caught it and fired to the shortstop covering second, who
then tossed it to the second baseman covering first for the 3-6-4 triple play.
* Friday night’s starter for the Panthers will be lefty Logan Allen, who sports
a 0.96 earned run average in five starts across 28 innings pitched. He has struck
out a team-high 50 and walked only 10 while allowing 13 hits, and a .138 batting
average against. He will likely be opposed in the opening game by WKU righty Eric
Crawford, who has a 5.19 earned run average in eight appearances – two starts – in
17.1 innings pitched.