PENSACOLA, Fla. — WKU Baseball fell twice on Saturday in the Cox Diamond
Invitational, by a score of 4-3 to Louisiana Monroe in Game 1 and a 6-3 final in
Game 2 against Tennessee in a scheduled seven-inning contest.
Making his first career start following 8.1 scoreless innings to start the season,
lefty Dalton Shoemake was lights out for the first three frames. He shut out ULM on
35 pitches with one strikeout and one baserunner, via walk.
The Warhawks got on the board in the fourth, however, as they led off with a
four-pitch walk and double off the center-field wall by infielder Chad Bell to put a
pair of runners in scoring position. Shoemake was able to get three straight ground
outs, but two of them were productive outs that got the runners home for a 2-0
After ULM scored one more in the fifth, Shoemake was lifted for reliever Kenny
LaPierre, who recorded the final out of that frame and posted two more zeroes after
The Hilltoppers appeared to score their first run of the game in the fifth, albeit
in a non-ideal situation of infielder Sam McElreath hitting into a 4-6-3 double play
with zero outs and the bases loaded. However, infielder Jack Wilson was ruled to
have committed interference as he slid in head-first to the second-base bag.
Both of the lead runners had to retreat to second and third and after pinch hitter
Richard Constantine was intentionally walked, freshman center fielder Jackson Swiney
flew out to center field for the third out as the deficit remained 3-0 after five
The Hilltoppers got on the board one inning later when infielder Davis Sims knocked
a two-out, RBI double off the center-field that scored right fielder Jake Sanford
from first base.
Sanford tied the game for WKU in the eighth, slashing a 3-1 pitch from Warhawk
reliever Landon Longsworth over the left-field fence for a two-run homerun that
scored designated hitter Dillon Nelson. It was his first Divison I homerun after the
transfer from McCook Junior College (Neb.) hit 23 in 108 games for the Indians over
the past two years.
Righty Jacob Green began the ninth inning on the mound for WKU and left with one out
and the bases loaded after two walks and a hit by pitch. Righty Joe Filosa came in
and got two straight outs, but one was a fielder’s choice that scored the run to put
the Warhawks ahead, 4-3.
Wilson produced his second single of the game with one out in the ninth, but
McElreath hit into his second 4-6-3 double play for the 26th and 27th outs.
Topper Notes – G1
* WKU has out-hit North Florida (8-to-5) and Louisiana Monroe (8-to-4) but lost
its first two games of the Cox Diamond Invitational. In 2018, the Hilltoppers were
16-6 when out-hitting their opponents and had been 3-0 this season when doing so.
* Swiney got WKU’s first hit of the contest with two outs in the third inning,
reaching base for the seventh time in an eight plate appearance span. He finished
the game 1-for-3 and led the Hilltoppers with a .400 batting average and .513
on-base percentage after facing ULM
* The WKU pitching staff allowed only four hits for the first time since March
24, 2018, at Rice, but hit five batters for the first time since April 29, 2017,
at Louisiana Tech.
Following a scoreless first frame from starters Reece Calvert and Will Neely, WKU
took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second.
Catcher Matt Phipps led off the inning with a single up the middle, then got into
scoring position with two outs with a stolen base. On the very next pitch, freshman
center fielder Jackson Swiney lined an RBI single into center field and Phipps
touched home with the first run of the game.
The lead did not last long, however, as first baseman Luc Lipcius drove a three-run
homerun off Calvert to right-center field. Righty Bailey Sutton came on in relief
and allowed three more runs – two earned – with the help of two throwing errors that
gave a number of free bases to Tennessee.
“We didn’t hand the ball well that inning, we tossed it around a little bit and you
can’t do that against good teams with good speed,” head coach John Pawlowski said.
“But our guys battled back, I thought our team competed well and we gave ourselves
an opportunity to get back in the ballgame.”
Trailing 6-1, the Hilltoppers chipped back in striking distance with solo homeruns
by infielder Davis Sims in the third and right fielder Jake Sanford in the sixth.
Sims’ towering fly ball to right field just cleared the outstretched glove of Justin
Ammons for his first dinger at WKU, pushing his collegiate total to 18. Sanford’s
shot cleared the 400 sign in straightaway center field, grazing the batter’s eye at
Blue Wahoos Park on the way down.
Although the Hilltoppers fell short, righty Eric Crawford was a highlight out of the
bullpen with 3.1 scoreless frames with three strikeouts and only four baserunners
allowed. He and righty Joe Filosa – who got the final two outs in the bottom of the
sixth – were able to keep the Volunteers off the board for the final four frames.
“It was good to see Davis Sims and Jake Sanford leave the yard, I was very pleased
to see them take some good swings against some good arms,” Pawlowski said. “I know
those guys are going to hit some homeruns and drive the ball for us.
“Also, Eric Crawford was very good against one of the better-hitting teams we’ve
faced this year.”
Topper Notes – G2
* Sanford became the first Hilltopper to homer in two games on the same day
since Jacob Rhinesmith in both ends of a doubleheader on March 10, 2018, vs.
* Since allowing three runs in his first appearance at WKU, Crawford has
recorded five consecutive scoreless outings. He has fired 9.1 innings with eight
strikeouts, allowing only seven hits and four walks in that span.
* In Filosa’s past three appearances, the graduate transfer from Ohio Dominican
has retired all seven batters he has faced, including all four on Saturday.
The Hilltoppers will travel to Richmond to take on Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday,
March 5. The past two games at Earle Combs Stadium have been wild ones, with WKU
winning by a score of 13-9 in 2018 and the Colonels coming out victorious in a
16-15, 10-inning contest in 2017.