WKU Baseball pitchers Eric Crawford and Dalton Shoemake combined to allow only two runs across eight innings, but the Hilltoppers were unable to solve FIU starter Logan Allen, falling by a score of 2-1 to the Panthers on Friday night.
FIU took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, as second baseman Derek Cartaya led off with a single to the right side and moved to third base on a pair of passed balls. With one out, three-hitter Austin Shenton lined a single into right field off Crawford to knock Cartaya home.
Crawford — a Bradenton, Fla., native — struck out a career-high seven batters, scattering four hits and five walks across 4.1 frames. He stranded five Panthers in four complete innings, including the bases loaded in the fourth when he struck out shortstop John Rodriguez looking on a 1-2 pitch.
The Hilltoppers posed a scoring threat in the fifth frame, as second baseman Jack Wilson and catcher Matt Phipps led off with back-to-back singles. But the next three hitters were set down by Allen to keep the WKU slate clean.
Another two Hilltoppers reached in the seventh — left fielder Ray Zuberer via hit by pitch and pinch hitter Richard Constantine — but Allen was able to wriggle out of another jam and strand both of the WKU runners.
Meanwhile, Shoemake — who relieved Crawford with one out in the fifth — completed the final 3.2 frames of one-run ball, striking out two while hitting two batters and allowing only two hits. Unfortunately, one of those hits was a solo homerun by FIU first baseman Javier Valdes in the sixth that pushed the Panther lead to 2-0.
At 106 pitches entering the ninth, Allen had posted eight scoreless innings. Right fielder Jake Sanford — who had been 0-for-3 coming into the at-bat — lined a leadoff single that was misplayed by the right fielder, allowing the ball to roll to the wall and Sanford to fly into third base.
The next Hilltopper up was designated hitter Dillon Nelson, who was able to lift a sacrifice fly that scored Sanford. WKU was unable to extend the rally, however, as Allen got the 26th out and reliever Jan Figueroa completed the 27th for a 2-1 victory for the home team.
Topper Quotes“I’m proud of our club. I like they way we played with focus and intensity, we just couldn’t get much going offensively and FIU found a way. We had to match [Allen] pitch-for-pitch and I thought we competed on the mound. Eric Crawford and Dalton Shoemake both went out there and gave us an opportunity to win.” — Head coach John Pawlowski.
Up NextWKU and FIU will play Game 2 on Saturday with first pitch at 5 p.m. CT. Lefty Troy Newell will get the ball for the Hilltoppers, while righty Nick MacDonald is expected to throw for the Panthers.How to Follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Hilltopper Baseball, follow the program via social media @WKUBaseball on Snapchat, TwitterInstagram & Facebook.
-@WKUSports-_____________________________
Bryan Fyalkowski
Assistant Director of Media Relations
WKU Hilltopper Athletics

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