WKU falls in morning, set for elimination rematch against ULM

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By ROB HERBST
The Daily News
rherbst@bgdailynews.com/783-3238
TROY, Ala. — Western Kentucky failed in its first opportunity to reach the Sun Belt Conference championship game today, when the Hilltoppers saw a late two-run lead turn into an 11-3 blowout loss this morning at rainy Riddle-Pace Field.

The second-seeded Hilltoppers (39-17) will now face No. 7 ULM (31-26) later today at a time to be determined, with the winner moving into Sunday’s championship. The loser will be eliminated.

Weather pending, No. 1 Middle Tennessee and No. 5 Louisiana-Lafayette were scheduled to play at approximately 2 p.m. today in the other semifinal game. 

WKU and ULM will follow after that, although rain could wreak havoc on the rest of the day.

Rain washed out the Hilltoppers’ scheduled Friday night game and their 9 a.m. scheduled start with ULM was delayed an hour because of more rain. The teams also sat through a 15-minute delay after the second inning, then played much of the contest in a light shower.

Eventually, ULM reigned over WKU.

The Hilltoppers took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh, but ULM tied the game in that inning on a solo home run from Perry Smith and RBI single from Ben Soignier, before blowing it open with an eight-run, eighth-inning.

ULM hit WKU relief pitcher J.B. Paxson hard after he entered in the 3-3 game.

Paxson suffered the loss, giving up six runs on four hits, a walk and a hit batsman in only 2/3 of an inning. ULM sent 12 batters to the plate. 

The Warhawks took their first lead of the game on Jordy Porch’s double, then broke it open with Matt Collins’ two-run single and Ryan McMillan’s three-run homer.

The ugly finished ruined what was a solid start from WKU pitcher Shane Cameron, despite some control issues. He gave up three runs on three hits and eight walks in 6 2/3 innings.

WKU took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second on Terrence Dayleg’s triple that scored Matt Rice. 
Rice later gave WKU a 3-1 lead in the seventh on an RBI single that scored Matt Hightower, but the Hilltoppers managed only seven hits and left 12 runners on base.

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