In the second of out stretch drive breakdown posts we’ll look at Western Kentucky University. The Hilltoppers looked certain to gain at at-large NCAA tournament bid from the Sun Belt Conference a few weeks ago, but WKU has dropped three of its last four series to land squarely on the bubble. Both Rivals.com and Baseball America currently have WKU out of the NCAA tournament as the sixth-place Sun Belt team simply doesn’t deserve a bid.
At this point WKU needs series wins against Sun Belt second-place Louisiana Lafayette and fourth place Middle Tennessee over the final two weeks to have a shot at the NCAA tournament. Despite being in sixth place, WKU is only three games back of Sun Belt leader Florida Atlantic in the loss column and is No. 46 in the RPI so anything is possible. The guess here is the Hilltoppers need to finish in the top three of the Sun Belt to make the NCAA tournament.
(You can see the Rivals.com field of 64 projection here and the Baseball America stock report here.)
Friday was a winless day on the diamond for Kentucky colleges as one game was rained out and the other two scheduled affairs saw long rain delays and losses to Sunshine state teams. Check out recaps and awards from the abbreviated Friday schedule below:
- No. 19 Western Kentucky University was blown out 10-3 by Florida Atlantic in game one of a three-game series. Florida Atlantic broke open a three-all tie with five runs in the seventh inning. Sophomore shortstop Logan Robbins was 2-3 with two RBI for the Hilltoppers. Senior right-handed ace Matt Ridings took the loss after allowing six runs in six and two-third innings. (Box Score)
- The University of Kentucky suffered a 10-8 loss after Florida broke open a six-all tie with a three-run, seventh inning home run. Sophomore third baseman Andy Burns and senior catcher Marcus Nidiffer both homered for UK, and four Cats tallied two hits. Lexington native Nick Maronde surrendered one run in one-third of an inning for Florida in his hometown return. (Box Score)
Hitter of the Day: C Marcus Nidiffer (UK)
- Stats: 2-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R
- Honorable Mention: Andy Burns (UK), Logan Robbins (WKU)
Pitcher of the Day: RHP Walter Wijas (UK)
- Stats: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO
- Honorable Mention: Matt Ridings (WKU), Logan Darnell (UK)