Hilltoppers Drop C-USA Opener to Charlotte – WKU Athletics


BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – WKU Baseball dropped its first Conference USA game of the season to Charlotte, 7-4, on Friday night at Nick Denes Field.
The Hilltoppers fought back into the game after the 49ers jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, but were ultimately unable to complete the comeback attempt.
“We got ourselves within striking distance and that’s what we tried to do once we got down 4-0,” said head coach John Pawlowski. “Against a pitcher of that caliber [Charlotte starter Bryce McGowan] you have to keep grinding and I thought we did put some runs on the board and then you never know what can happen.”
Jake Kates earned the starting nod for the Hilltoppers in his sixth appearance of the season, allowing six earned runs while striking out seven batters in 6.0 innings of action. Ryan O’Connell entered the game in the seventh to relieve Kates, tossing 3.0 frames of scoreless ball while recording four strikeouts.
At the plate, the Hilltoppers tallied six hits, with Jackson Swiney leading the way with a 2-for-3 performance. Justin Carlin, Ty Crittenberger, Kevin Lambert and Ray Zuberer III also recorded one hit apiece in the contest.
Charlotte opened the scoring in the second inning, taking a 2-0 lead off an RBI-double and sac fly.
The 49ers extended their lead in the top of the third, using an RBI-double down the left field line and a sac fly to center field to make it 4-0.
The Hilltoppers scored their first run of the game in the fifth frame, as Lambert ripped a double to right center field to plate Swiney.
Charlotte then tacked on three more runs in the top of the sixth to put the score at 7-1.
WKU cut into the 49ers’ lead in the bottom of the frame, with Swiney roping an RBI-double to right field and Davis Sims scoring from third on a balk to make it 7-3.
The Hilltoppers added one more run in the seventh inning, as Meyer used an RBI-groundout to score Eric Riffe and put the game at 7-4, but WKU was ultimately unable to find enough offense to complete the comeback attempt.
The Hilltoppers will play a seven-inning doubleheader against the 49ers beginning at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday, March 27 at Nick Denes Field.
Capacity at WKU Baseball home games has increased to 50 percent. A limited number of tickets will now be sold at the gate beginning an hour prior to each contest. Tickets will be available on a first-come, first served basis. Tickets can be purchased for $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. Fans are required to wear masks and practice social distancing during the game.

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