Western Kentucky survived a back-and-forth contest Friday night at Nick Denes Field, outlasting visiting Louisiana-Lafayette 10-9 in 11 innings.
After five lead changes and after trailing 9-8 in the bottom of the 10th, junior Regan Flaherty came through for the Hilltoppers (15-11, 6-1 Sun Belt Conference) with a two-out RBI single in WKU's final at-bat.
"I was just looking for something to hit," Flaherty said. "The scouting report said (pitcher Nick Zaunbrecher) throws a lot of fastballs. I let one go for a strike, it wasn't my pitch, knew I'd get another one. Ended up getting one and put a good swing on it and got a hit out of it."
It was the Tops' eighth win in 10 games.
"We've proved we've been resilient as of late," Flaherty said. "The more times you do it, the more confident you become in your club to do that from here on out. You don't worry, you don't press the panic button if you get down a few runs. You're confident in what you got."
Louisiana-Lafayette jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first.
Dex Kjerstad singled to lead off the game, and Tyler Girouard singled with one out. Caleb Adams drove in Kjerstad with a grounder to short, then Girouard scored on Michael Strentz's double to right-center.
The Hilltoppers came back in their half, scoring three times on three ULL errors.
After Thomas Peter reached on an error and Flaherty and Devin Kelly walked with one out, Ryan Huck reached on an error by ULL third baseman Sam Carriere that allowed Peter to score.
After Ryan Messex reached on yet another error – loading the bases – and Justin Hageman struck out, Blake Crabtree singled up the middle to give WKU a 3-2 lead.
In the fifth, Ryan Leonards was hit by a pitch and later scored on Kjerstad's RBI fielder's choice to tie the score at 3-3.
In the bottom half, Huck blasted a solo shot – the 25th of his career and eighth of the season – to make it 4-3.
Leonards doubled with two outs in the sixth when WKU center fielder David Simmons slipped on the wet outfield grass. Strentz scored on the play, tying the game at 4-4.
The Cajuns (18-7, 3-4) took the lead back in the seventh.
Kjerstad singled to left and Girouard walked with one out.
Facing Adams, WKU reliever Taylor Haydel fielded a comebacker, but when he looked to first, no one was there. Going to second instead, Haydel threw it into center field, allowing Kjerstad and Girouard to score, making it 6-4.
The Tops made it 6-5 in the seventh after doubles from Scott Wilcox and Kelly. Adam Lavelle came up with runners on second and third and two outs and smacked a single up the middle to give WKU the lead back at 7-6.
Jace Conrad came off the bench with two out in the top of the eighth for ULL and tied it back up at 7-7 with an RBI single to right. Girouard stepped in and singled to break the tie and give ULL the lead back at 8-7.
In the eighth, Flaherty drove in David Simmons with a two-out single to left to tie the game at 8-8.
"It was a long night," Flaherty said. "A lot of swings, they strike first and we strike back and then it was just back-and-forth all night long."
Blake Trahan doubled in a run in the 10th to make it 9-8. Messex hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom half to score Flaherty and sent the game into 11 tied at 9-9.
Austin Clay got the spot start for Tanner Perkins, who is resting this weekend. He went six innings, allowed four earned runs on eight hits and struck out six.
Ian Tompkins pitched three innings of relief and allowed one run on one hit. Flaherty finished 4 of 6, as did Crabtree.
The two teams return to action at 1 p.m. today for a doubleheader.