TROY, Ala. – The Troy University baseball team provided itself numerous opportunities but failed to pick up timely hits in a 5-4 loss to Western Kentucky at Riddle-Pace Field on Friday.
Down a run in the ninth inning with runners on second and third, Jo-El Bennett hit a line drive to center field that looked as if it would fall for a hit. WKU center fielder Trevor Lowe made a sliding catch, however, keeping Garrett Pitts from advancing from second. Ali Knowles would score on the play but closer Ian Tompkins would strike out Matthew Howard to end the game.
The Trojans (17-18, 4-8 SBC) squandered several chances to score in the game including a bases loaded possibility in the fourth; Troy stranded 11 runners in the game.
WKU (18-15, 7-6) took an early lead with a run in the first inning on an RBI single from Anderson Miller. The Hilltoppers would add another run in the third and two more in the fourth – one on a Philip Deidrick home run. Diedrick would go deep for a second time in the sixth inning to increase WKU's lead to 5-0.
Troy's bats would wake in the seventh as Clay Holcomb and Knowles led off the frame with singles and advanced on an error. Pitts would single up the middle to plate both runners and increase his team-high RBI total to 26 on the season. Two batters later, Howard bunted down the third base line to score Pitts and close the gap to 5-3. Bennett's line out in the ninth gave the Trojans a chance to tie the game before Tompkins entered and closed the door.
The Hilltoppers have now won 57 consecutive games when leading after eight innings. Troy falls to 2-7 in Friday night contests and 5-5 in one-run games.
Trojan starter Tanner Hicks (2-6) took the loss but left the game in the fourth inning after taking a line drive off his throwing arm. Ben Tidwell pitched 3 1/3 innings in relief allowing one run on four hits. WKU's Justin Hageman earned the win after going six innings allowing three runs on nine hits.
Knowles, batting in the No. 2 hole for just the third time this season, finished the game 3-for-5 scoring two runs. David Hall was the only other Trojan to finish with two or more hits; he was 2-for-5.
Troy and Western Kentucky will return to Riddle-Pace field for game two of the series. The game is set for a 6 p.m. start.