BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Western Kentucky connected for five doubles as part of a 13-hit attack, building an early lead and defeating Purdue baseball 8-3 in the series opener Friday.
The Hilltoppers (9-4) scored four times in the third inning to open up a 6-1 lead. The bullpen kept the Boilermakers (6-6) in it by posting three consecutive zeros. After cutting WKU’s lead in half, loading the bases with two outs in the fifth inning put the potential tying on base. But the visitors did not threaten again.
Purdue starter Bo Hofstra (0-1) was hit by a line drive with the bases loaded in the third inning, forcing him to leave the game early. Kyle Wade gave up an RBI single but then induced an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play to get the Boilermakers out of the frame. Wade pitched over a leadoff double the next inning, retiring WKU’s 1-2-3 hitters.
Skyler Hunter doubled to begin the contest for the third time in the last five games. It was his fourth game-opening hit overall in the last five. After Evan Albrecht hit the second pitch of the game into center field for a single, Hunter scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Zac Fascia. The senior finished the day 2-for-3 with a hit by pitch and a run scored. However, despite the RBI, Fascia’s 12-game reached base safely streak came to an end.
WKU starter Michael Darrell-Hicks (2-1) struck out a career-high nine over five innings of three-run ball. He fanned six in a row and seven of eight at one point. Jake Kates closed out the victory with four innings of hitless relief, retiring 11 of the 12 batters he faced. A 6-4-3 double play erased the only batter to reach base against him.
Ben Nisle and Miles Simington both singled and walked. They helped the Boilermakers score twice in the fourth inning to get back in the game after WKU’s four-run rally. Mason Gavre (RBI single) and Kyle LaPlante (sac fly) plated the runs for Purdue.
With the bases loaded in the sixth inning, Albrecht made a nice pick on a slow chopper to shortstop, throwing out the batter to get Purdue out of the jam. That play kept the score 6-3. But Jackson Swiney led off the following frame with a home run to right center field.
The Boilermakers have conceded four-plus runs in an inning five times over the last five games.
Game 2 of the series is set for Saturday at 2 p.m. ET.