Four homeruns accounted for Middle Tennessee’s first nine runs, as WKU Baseball lost by a score of 11-4 on Sunday afternoon. The Blue Raiders completed a three-game sweep of the Hilltoppers over the weekend.
First baseman Richard Constantine led the WKU offense with a 3-for-5 day at the plate and scored one run. In the series, the junior from Huntsville, Ala., went 8-for-13 while also reaching base with one walk and one time hit by pitch. He was also a perfect 20-for-20 in fielding opportunities.
Right fielder Jake Sanford went 2-for-5 for his sixth-straight multi-hit game and eighth in his past nine contests. During the series, the Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, native went 7-for-14 and now sports a .398 batting average on the season with 49 hits in 123 at-bats.
After Middle Tennessee scored four runs in the first inning in each of the first two games of the series, starter Dalton Shoemake was able to keep the hosts off the board with a 1-2-3 first frame on Sunday.
That enabled the Hilltoppers to take a 1-0 lead when shortstop Kevin Lambert doubled home freshman center fielder Jackson Swiney — who also doubled — with two outs in the top of the second.
But in the bottom of that inning, Blake Benefield lifted a two-run homerun to right-center and then Brycen Thomas hit a solo shot to right field to give the Blue Raiders a 3-1 lead they would not relinquish.
Middle Tennessee got a three-run homerun from Benefield in the third, then a three-run shot off the bat of Aaron Antonini in the fourth to take a 9-1 advantage.
After reliever Joe Filosa posted three-straight zeroes in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, WKU got back on the board with three runs in the top of the seventh to bring the game within striking distance.
Outfielder Aidan Elias started the rally with a single to left field — his first base hit as a Hilltopper — and scored on a throwing error. Designated hitter Dillon Nelson followed with a two-run single up the middle, but was stranded on first base.
The Blue Raiders used four two-out singles off Filosa to add two more runs in the eighth, pushing their lead back to seven and closed out the contest with an 11-4 victory under gray skies at Reese Smith Jr. Field.
- “Give credit to the offense, those guys grinded all weekend. They did an outstanding job in a hitter’s park, swung the bats very well and gave us an opportunity, but we didn’t pitch it well and that’s the sum total of the weekend.” — Head coach John Pawlowski.
- “I told the team that if somebody would have said that we won seven games in our first four Conference USA weekends, would we take that? And everybody in that group said we would take it. That being said, we can be better than that. We strive to be better than that, but it’s where we are and we have to take it and move forward.” — Head coach John Pawlowski.
- “Injuries are part of baseball, but everybody practices hard and works hard to be ready for their opportunities. I’m happy for Richard and Aidan, they deserve every moment of their success. Those guys work hard all the time and they’re two good dudes.” — Junior Dillon Nelson.
Up NextWKU returns home for a midweek contest vs. Belmont on Tuesday, April 9 at Nick Denes Field. First pitch will be at 5 p.m. The Bruins come into the game with a 15-16 overall record, including a 10-5 mark in Ohio Valley Conference play. The Hilltoppers now stand at 14-15-1 overall, including a 7-4-1 mark in C-USA action, which is good enough for fourth in the league standings.How to Follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Hilltopper Baseball, follow the program via social media @WKUBaseball on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook.
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