Western Kentucky's baseball team evened the series at one game apiece by beating Middle Tennessee 8-4 on Saturday afternoon in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
The Hilltoppers improved to 15-5 overall and got their first Conference USA win of the season, improving to 1-1.
WKU freshman right-hander Dawson Hall earned his second straight Saturday win and fourth overall, while freshman infielder Lukas Farris drove in three runs in a 2-for-4 outing that helped solidify the victory over the Blue Raiders and even the series going into Sunday's series finale.
“I thought we had some good at-bats, their starter is between 94-97 (mph) and we just went deep into counts and took our walks,” WKU coach Marc Rardin said in a news release. “We had a 3-0 lead with one hit to start with, so that is just who we are right now. Wind is blowing in, there were balls that could have gone out on any other day from both sides, but today they did not.
"We had our moment in the seventh inning when we had to get about 11 outs, instead of three, but we got through it. (Lane) Diuguid got us out of it, but he also put us into it with two errors himself. We have not tapped who we are yet and that was really my talk afterwards. I said, 'We could be dangerous,' as they continue to learn this new era of Hilltopper baseball. I think that is just one of the things that just goes with it is continuing to be aggressive, being positive about it, and really going towards winning and not being afraid of losing.”
Hall totaled three strikeouts in five innings of work with no runs on three hits and two walks on his way to earning his fourth win of the year. Diuguid, Evan Jones and CJ Weins all made relief appearances following Hall’s departure. The three combined for two strikeouts in four innings while surrendering four runs on nine hits and one walk.
At the plate, WKU tallied six hits in an eight-run effort. Farris was the lone Hilltopper to record a multi-hit effort. The freshman had three RBIs in a 2-for-4 effort, while Ricardo Leonett brought in two runs himself with a two-out, two-RBI double in the top of the ninth to help secure the win.
The Hilltoppers kicked off the scoring in the fourth inning, marking three times off an RBI single from Farris while the other two scored from wild pitches to give WKU a 3-0 lead.
The Blue Raiders scratched for a run the first time in the sixth with an RBI single to make the score 3-1.
In the seventh, WKU answered with three more. One came off a fielding miscue from Middle Tennessee, while the other two came by way of a two-RBI single from Farris to put the score at 6-1.
Another RBI single from the Blue Raiders in the seventh made it a four-run game at 6-2.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Blue Raiders knocked a two-RBI double to cut the Hilltopper lead to 6-4.
Leonett added two more in the top of the ninth with a two RBI double to set up Weins to shut it down in the bottom of the frame to make the final tally, 8-4.
The Hilltoppers will conclude its series against Middle Tennessee on Sunday starting at 1 p.m. in Murfreesboro, Tenn.