Started by five stellar innings by Jeff Ciocco and ended by a torrential downpour – with a five-run comeback in-between – WKU Baseball outlasted Murray State by a score of 8-5 on Tuesday night. The freshman retired the first 11 batters he faced and got through five scoreless innings before running into trouble in the sixth.
It was a 0-0 game heading into the Racers’ half of the sixth, when a walk and single brought in the bullpen. Ciocco’s night was done after a career-high 5.1 innings and only 67 pitches; the righty struck out three and allowed only four baserunners. By the time Logan Weins got the second and third outs, the hosts jumped out to a 5-0 lead.
But back came WKU in the following frame, sending 11 men to the plate and scoring six runs in the process. The Hilltoppers generated six walks, a hit by pitch and three hits – including a game-tying, bases-clearing, three-run double off the bat of Thomas Peter into the left-field corner.
After Peter was thrown out at third on the play, it seemed as though the inning might stymie. But a single by Steven Kraft and a Grayson Ivey walk brought up Tyler Robertson. Two weeks after the second baseman had defeated Murray State with a walk-off sacrifice play, he provided the game-winning hit in this one, dropping a single into center field to score Kraft for the go-ahead run.
Now a 6-5 game, Jackson Sowell relieved Weins in the seventh frame and earned his third save of the year with three strikeouts in 1.2 scoreless innings. The Hilltoppers got a run in the each of the next two innings on wild pitches, and the game was called with one out in the top of the ninth after an errant Racers pitch that scored Robertson to make it an 8-5 final.
It was the first road midweek win for the Hilltoppers, as they completed the sweep of Murray State in the home-and-home series.
WKU drew nine walks, which was second-most this season to the 10 at Eastern Kentucky on March 8. Meanwhile, the pitching staff allowed a season-low four hits.
Steven Kraft started at designated hitter and had the lone multi-hit game for the Hilltoppers. He also walked, scored a run and stole two bases for the first time in his career.
Over his past four outings, Jackson Sowell has thrown 5.1 innings, allowing only one hit while striking out nine hitters, lowering his earned run average from 5.11 to 3.57.
Tyler Robertson went 1-for-3 with two walks to stretch his hitting streak to seven games, while Bryson Smith started at third base for the sixth straight game, boasting at least one base knock in each.
What’s Up Next
Exactly 23 hours after Tuesday’s first pitch, the Austin Peay leadoff hitter will step into the box at Nick Denes Field at 5 p.m. WKU goes up against the Governors in the first of a home-and-home series on the season, which will see the Hilltoppers visit Clarksville, Tennessee on April 25. The visitors will throw righty Tyler Thompson, while head coach John Pawlowski’s starter remains TBA.
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Assistant Director of Media Relations
WKU Hilltopper Athletics