In a game that went back-and-forth all night the Western Kentucky came out on top, 14-11 early Friday morning in the second round of the 2009 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship at Riddle-Pace Field in Troy. The game featured three lead changes, four home runs, 14 free bases, 23 runs and 27 hits.
“That was a heck of a ball game,” Troy head coach Bobby Pierce said. “I hate that we came up on the wrong side of it in the end. We played pretty good consistently, but Western Kentucky is a good ball team that continues to put pressure on you in a lot of different ways. I give Western Kentucky a lot of credit. They are a veteran, experienced team and they deserved to win tonight. We have a long road ahead of us now and now we will have to battle back and see how long we can stay in this tournament.”
For the second night in a row, Brett Henry put the Trojans (33-22) ahead in the first inning with an RBI hit. After Trevor Tyre walked and Ryan Ditthardt singled, Henry laced a ball through the right side to score Tyre for the first run of the game and a 1-0 Troy lead. The Trojans left the bases loaded in the inning.
WKU’s Chad Cregar answered the Troy inning with one swing of the bat in the top of the second. Cregar bombed a ball over the monster in right field to tie the score at 1-1.
The Hilltoppers added to the lead in the third inning when Matt Hightower blasted a ball to straightaway center field to bring home Jake Wells who opened the inning with a double. The bomb gave WKU (39-16) a 3-1 lead.
Troy cut the lead in half with one run in the bottom of the third when Charley Williams singled and scored on a sacrifice fly from Miles Hoyle. After the Hilltoppers went quietly in the top of the fourth the Trojans grabbed the lead back with four runs on three hits.
Steven Felix and Adam Bryant opened the inning with back-to-back singles and Chad Watson was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Charley Williams drilled a triple into the right-center field gap to clear the bases and score Felix, Bryant and Watson to give Troy a 5-3 lead.
Trevor Tyre walked and Daryl Otwell hit a sacrifice fly to score Williams and push the advantage to 6-3.
Williams led the Trojans at the plate, going 2-for-6 with three RBIs and three runs scored.
The Hilltoppers cut into the lead in the sixth inning. Cregar walked to open the inning and with two outs Matt Payton singled Cregar home to cut the lead to 6-4. Jake Wells doubled and Payton scored on a wild pitch to chop the lead to 6-5. Wheeler caught a comebacker to end the inning.
Troy added to the lead in the bottom of the inning. Watson singled to open the inning. Williams attempted a sacrifice bunt, but Watson was called out at second. Tyre singled and Otwell picked up his second RBI in as many appearances at the plate to drive Williams home for the 7-5 lead.
Brett Henry also picked up his second RBI of the day with an RBI single and Otwell scored on a wild pitch to increase the lead to 9-5.
A solo blast by Hilltopper leadoff man Jared Andreoli cut the Troy lead to 9-6 in the seventh inning.
WKU took the lead with six runs in the eighth.
“I thought we had a chance to seal the game with a double play ball in the eighth and we couldn’t get it turned and gave up a bunch after that,” Pierce said.
Williams dove for a sinking line drive in right field, but it popped out of his glove and Wade Gaynor had a two-RBI double that put the Hilltoppers on top 10-9. Chad Cregar launched a home run over the monster in right field to put WKU up 12-9.
“(Cregar) and Hightower have swung the bat real well for them and Gaynor is dangerous and Rice is dangerous,” Pierce said. “They have a very solid lineup and they have a lot of guys who can hit and do a lot of damage.”
Cregar and Hightower combined to go 4-for-8 at the plate with three home runs, six RBIs and five runs scored. Andreoli went 2-for-5 with a home run, four RBIs and two runs scored.
Trevor Tyre led off the bottom of the inning with a double and Otwell brought him home with another RBI hit. Otwell rocked a double to right field to cut the lead to 12-10. Miles Hoyle stepped to the plate and ripped a single up the middle to score Otwell and cut the lead to 12-11.
Otwell entered for Ditthardt in the fourth inning and went 2-for-2 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
The Trojans went through three pitchers in the ninth inning and WKU scored two runs in the inning to push the lead to 14-11.
Chris Sorce, who entered in the eighth, took the loss for Troy and Evan Teague picked up the win. Bart Carter got his fourth save of the year with two innings of shutout ball and two strikeouts.
The Trojans face ULM today at 12:30 p.m. and Western Kentucky will await the winner of that game.
Click here for a photo gallery of Thursday’s action
That game will start at 7:30 p.m. tonight.