BOWLING GREEN, KY (AStateRedWolves.com) – Arkansas State trailed by four runs twice and cut the deficit to one run but could not complete the comeback in an 8-6 loss to Western Kentucky Friday night at Nick Denes Field.
A-State (16-14, 7-3 SBC) trailed 5-1 after the first three innings but pulled within 6-5 after runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
Western Kentucky (17-14, 5-5) scored a run in the bottom of the fifth inning to go up 6-2, but A-State cut the deficit in half with a pair of runs in the sixth inning via a wild pitch and an RBI single.
Matt Burgess scored on a wild pitch after he led off the inning with a hard hit single up the middle and moved into scoring position on a single from Lucas Feddersen. Collin Massanelli followed with a sac bunt to move the runners to second and third and Burgess scored on Justin Hageman's wild pitch. Derek Birginske then ripped a single into centerfield to score Feddersen to get the Red Wolves within 6-4.
The Red Wolves made it a one-run game in the seventh inning when Baker scored on back-to-back wild pitches from Brennan Pearson. Pearson then walked the bases loaded with no outs, but battled and struck out the next batters he faced to limit the damage to just one run.
The Hilltoppers added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth inning to go up 8-5, but A-State tried to put a 2-out rally in the ninth inning when Derek Birginske doubled in Stuart Levy to pull the Red Wolves within two runs. However, the game ended when Birginkse was picked off second base to hand Arkansas State just its third loss of the conference season.
Birginske finished the night 2-for-5 with two RBIs, while Levy added a pair of hits, an RBI and scored two runs.
David Owen turned in the longest out of his career on the mound, throwing 125 pitches across 7.2 and striking out six. He surrendered eight runs (six earned) on eight hits and walked two.
The Red Wolves made WKU pay for a fielding error in the second inning. Collin Massanelli reached on a 2-out bunt single and moved into scoring position when the throw sailed wide at first base. He scored on an RBI single from Stuart Levy on a hard hit ball over the shortstop's head to cut the early deficit to 2-1.
Eric Wilcoxson led off the third inning with a double off the wall in right-centerfield to give him extra base hits in four of his five hits on the season. He advanced to third on a groundout but was left stranded when Austin Baker was robbed of a hit on a great catch by WKU shortstop Cody Wofford to end the inning.
A pair of WKU miscues in the fifth inning led to another A-State run in the fifth inning. Levy scored on an error by Ryan Messex trying to throw Levy in a run down. Levy was on third base and tried to score on a wild pitch, but the ball bounced off the brick backstop and right back to Messex who tried to throw out Levy who was retreating back to third base, but the throw was low and went into left field which allowed Levy to score easily to cut the WKU lead to 5-2.
Owen caught an unlucky break in the first inning after a bloop single into right field led to two runs for the Hilltoppers in the inning. Owen began the frame with a strikeout, but then issued a single up the middle and a double down the left field line to put runners on second and third. Ryan Messex drove in both runners on the two-RBI single to give the Hilltoppers an early lead.
Western Kentucky added to its lead with three runs in the third inning. Anderson Miller drove in a pair of runs with a double to left-centerfield and the Hilltoppers plated another on a sacrifice fly by Wofford to go up 5-1.
The series will continue Saturday afternoon with first-pitch set for 3 p.m. The game be heard on 95.3FM/970AM and on AStateRedWolves.com with pregame coverage starting at 2:45.
For in-game updates follow @AStateGameDay on Twitter and stay up to date with A-State baseball by following the team on Twitter (@AStateBaseball) and Facebook (Facebook.com/RedWolvesbaseball).