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February 16, 2024

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Baseball takes two of three games in opening series

For a brief moment on Sunday afternoon, with the Falcons trailing by a run in the ninth, Nick Denes Field in Bowling Green, Ky., became Mudville, with sophomore Andrew Kubuski assuming the role of Casey.

The Falcons had plated three runs in the ninth against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on two errors and a wild pitch.

Kubuski, the power-hitting outfielder with a double and walk already in the game, dug in with two outs and the miracle tying man on second.

This past year, Kubinski led the team in batting average, hits, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.

Kubuski, like in “Casey at the Bat,” struck out, the Falcons a runner in scoring position away from potentially sweeping the Hilltoppers following 9-8 and 3-2 victories Friday and Saturday.

The Falcons actually recorded more runs than hits on Sunday, as Hilltoppers pitchers Tanner Perkins and Andrew Edwards combined for eight and two-thirds innings, giving up two hits and no earned runs.

BG’s Trevor Blaylock was the losing pitcher, surrendering four earned runs, most coming in the first inning. The Falcons bullpen followed with three scoreless innings from RHP’s Jason Link, Levi Fisher and Devin Daugherty.

Two nights before, in Friday’s season opener, the Falcons jumped out to an 8-1 lead after two innings. BG’s lineup drove Hilltoppers starter Justin Hageman out of the game after recording just one inning pitched.

It looked like the Falcons would cruise to a big win on opening day, with starter Cody Apthorpe, BG co-captain, giving up just two runs in four innings of work.

From there, however, it was all Western Kentucky. The Falcons went virtually hitless after the third inning, and Link, at times brilliant last year from the bullpen as a freshman, gave up four runs in the seventh.

“I thought we were very disciplined early in the game … took a lot of pitches and everything,” BG coach Danny Schmitz said. “We kind of got away from that.”

The Hilltoppers tied the game at eight apiece an inning later, with three singles off the Falcons’ Nick Bruns as the game went into extra innings.

In the 10th, the Falcons took a one-run lead after Patrick Lancaster scored with two outs on a Hilltoppers error. Defensive miscues cost both teams throughout the weekend, with the Falcons recording seven of the combined 10 errors in the series.

Falcons reliever Ben Singer, formerly a starter for BG, came in to close out the game to secure an extra-innings victory.

Saturday’s game was a pitching duel, with BG’s Mike Frank, in his first appearance for the Falcons since 2011, battling with Hilltoppers starter Tim Bado. The teams traded runs early on solo home runs from Falcons catcher T.J. Losby and WKU senior Ryan Huck.

The score remained deadlocked at two until the seventh inning, when BG’s Brian Bien singled home Matt Smith to take the lead for good. Ethan McKenney threw three shut-out innings to close out the game, giving up just one hit on a pair of strikeouts.

Freshman Brett Fitzwater got his feet wet in his first career appearance for BG, notching the win after an inning of relief. The 3-2 victory gave Coach Schmitz 590 on his career, just 10 from notching 600 total wins.

“It was a great team win,” Schmitz said on Saturday. “We had the pitching, the defense and I guess just enough hitting.”

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