The Western Kentucky baseball team (0-2) struggled at the plate Saturday and left seven runners on base in a 3-2 loss to Bowling Green State at Nick Denes Field.
Unlike Friday’s opener, when WKU allowed eight runs in the first two innings, senior pitcher Tim Bado kept the Toppers in the thick of it Saturday with a strong first start.
Bado allowed a career-low four hits and no walks in 5 2/3 innings, surrendering two runs on 69 pitches for a no-decision.
Senior first baseman Ryan Huck, who hit a solo homer in the second inning, was the only Topper with multiple hits. The Toppers are 4-of-20 with runners in scoring position through two games.
WKU will give the ball to junior pitcher Tanner Perkins for Sunday’s series finale at 1 p.m. The start will be Perkins’ first since March 9, 2012, following Tommy John Surgery.
Perkins has thrown as many as 60 pitches this year, coach Matt Myers said, but will be on an innings limit. Junior Andrew Edwards will the first arm out of the bullpen, he said.
Here are postgame comments from Myers, Huck and Bado:
MATT MYERS, coach
Losing close games: “When these guys get that taste of overcoming that and winning, I think we’re going to take off. As you’ve seen the first two days, it’s pretty good arms for us. I told them, ‘Expect games like this.'”
Trouble at the plate: “We did a horrible job today with guys at third base and less than two outs, putting the ball in play. We can’t be taking strike three, and those are the things that when teams start to win, those at-bats change. That should’ve been about an 8-3 game today, but it wasn’t, and Bowling Green took advantage.”
Little things costing them: “It’s cost us two games. No disrespect to our opponent, but we’ve had opportunities in both games with the little things in execution. Both winning runs in the last two days should’ve been knocked down in the infield. For tough, gritty, winning teams, that’s an automatic.”
0-2 start at home: “It’s not a panic button, but we take a lot of pride in winning here.”
Perkins being on pitch count for Sunday: “Bowling Green’s an important game, but having him be in conference play, healthy, that’s the No. 1 goal.”
RYAN HUCK, senior first baseman
0-2 start: “It’s disappointing, of course. I think we’re a better team than them, and I think we’re a better team than we’ve shown. We should be able to go right now and put up more runs, but it’s about putting the ball in play and doing the little things right.”
Goals for Sunday: “We don’t want to get swept on our own home field. We’re a good home team – always have been. We want to take a game tomorrow.”
Getting two extra-base hits: “We’re trying to attack fastballs as much as we can. We want to find mistake pitches. They made a couple mistakes, and I was able to capitalize on them. We want to make those mistakes hurt.”
Bado’s pitching effort: “If our offense could’ve gotten a couple of runs together, that game should’ve been a no-brainer because Tim threw outstanding.”
TIM BADO, senior pitcher
His effort: “With Justin (Hageman) struggling yesterday, I noticed that all you have to do is fill up the zone against these guys. That’s what I focused on.”
Potential of the staff: “We have unbelievable potential this year as a staff. With Justin, Tanner and I, we give ourselves a chance to win every time out, and with that bullpen, we’re going to be really tough.”
Strength of the bullpen: “Last year, I kind of felt like I had to go seven or eight innings every time and hope we could get it done. But this year, I feel that if I get my job done in five or six, those guys will save it for me.”
0-2 start: “To be honest, it’s been a little embarrassing. We know we’re a lot better than we’ve played, so we’ve got to take it one game at a time. We’ll clean it up.”