Mark West: Western Kentucky Tops Red Wolves in Bowling Green


Western Kentucky Tops Red Wolves in Bowling Green

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The Arkansas State Red Wolves continued their quest for a Sun Belt Conference title travelling to Bowling Green, Kentucky to face the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. WKU came into the series confident coming off their second Top 5 win of the year after defeating the No. 4 Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns last Friday.

This three-game set would be the last time the teams will meet as members of the Sun Belt Conference as the Hilltoppers are leaving for Conference USA at season’s end. Western Kentucky led the series 35-34 coming into the weekend.

Game 1 – WKU 8, A-State 6

Western Kentucky scored five runs in the first three innings to build a four-run lead at 5-1. Junior catcher Stuart Levy drove in the Red Wolves first run with a single in the second and then scored on an error in the fifth to pull A-State within 5-2.

After WKU extended the lead to 6-2, the Red Wolves scored two in the sixth with sophomore first baseman Matt Burgess scoring on a wild pitch and Derek Birginske (So., RF) hitting an RBI single. The Red Wolves would leave the bases loaded in the inning trailing 6-4.

A-State would get another run in the seventh as sophomore center fielder Austin Baker scored on a wild pitch, cutting the lead to 6-5. However, the Red Wolves would strand runners on second and third as Levy and Birginske struck out back-to-back to end the threat.

The Red Wolves gave up two runs in the eighth on back-to-back two-out doubles as WKU added to their lead 8-5. Birginske would be picked off by the catcher at second to end the game after hitting an RBI double that cut the lead to 8-6.

A-State starter David Owen (So., RHP) suffered his first loss in his worst outing so far allowing six earned runs over 7.2 innings of work on eight hits and two walks while striking out six. Levy led the offense with a 2-for-4 day with a walk, two runs scored and an RBI.

Game 2WKU 9, A-State 6

The Red Wolves would jump to an early lead as starter Chandler Hawkins (So., LHP) pitched well into the fifth inning. Junior second baseman Lucas Feddersen knocked a two-run single to center and Birginske would draw a bases loaded walk as A-State jumped to a 3-0 lead in the third. Yet, again the Red Wolves would miss the opportunity for further damage as Feddersen would be picked off third base to end the bases loaded threat.

Leading 3-1, Hawkins ran into fifth inning trouble allowing a grand slam in a five-run rally that put the Red Wolves behind 6-3. In the seventh, Feddersen would drive in another run while reaching base on a fielder’s choice, cutting the lead to 6-4, but would be caught stealing to end the inning.

Trailing 7-4 in the eighth Collin Massanelli (Jr., LF) and Eric Wilcoxson (Fr., 2B) each hit two-out RBI singles to pull the Red Wolves within a run at 7-6. However, WKU would get two insurance runs off Red Wolves reliever Cody Woodhouse (Sr., RHP) to extend the lead to 9-6.

A-State didn’t mount a threat in the ninth as WKU clinched the series win. Hawkins took the loss to fall to 2-4 in his worst outing on the year allowing six runs, five earned, over 4.2 innings pitched on six hits and a walk with a strike out. Feddersen drove in three runs and Maggio scored twice on the day.

Game 3 – A-State 7, WKU 5

Red Wolves starter Bradley Wallace (Sr., RHP) was brilliant again on Sunday as he allowed an unearned run on five hits and a walk over seven innings pitched leaving the game with A-State on top 6-1. Wallace has now thrown 14 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.

The Red Wolves built the lead as Burgess drove in Maggio four times on the day, twice on a sac flies in the first and fourth, on a groundout in the third, and on a double in the ninth.

A-State would push across three other runs to take a 7-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth. Baker scored on an error in the third and singled home senior short stop Dustin Jones in the fourth after Wilcoxson drew a bases loaded walk scoring Levy who led the inning off with a single.

Morgan Croft (Sr., RHP) came on to pitch the eighth and escaped a jam after allowing back-to-back one-out singles. Croft wouldn’t be as fortunate in the ninth as he loaded the bases and then surrendered a three-run double and an RBI single before getting a ground out to end the game with a 7-5 Red Wolves’ victory. Maggio went 4-for-4 scoring four runs, all driven in by Burgess who went 2-for-3. Baker contributed a 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.

Despite of dropping the series, the Red Wolves (17-15, 8-4 Sun Belt) are still alone in second place in the Sun Belt at 8-4, a game ahead of the Texas State Bobcats and two games up on WKU.

Player of the Series: Zach Maggio (Sr., DH) .545 (6-for-11), 2 BB, 2 HBP, .667 OBA, 6 R, 1 SB

Pitcher of the Series: Bradley Wallace (Sr., RHP) W, 1-0, 7.0 IP, 5 H, BB, 3 K

Upcoming A-State hosts Central Arkansas (17-12, 6-6 Southland) in a midweek tilt before travelling to Mobile to play the South Alabama Jaguars (15-16, 5-6 Sun Belt) in a three game Sun Belt Conference series next weekend.

Tags: ,