The University of Evansville led 6-1 after five innings, but visiting Western Kentucky scored six unanswered runs to defeat the Purple Aces, 7-6, Tuesday night at Braun Stadium.
Freshman Jonathan Ramon led Evansville (21-32) at the plate by driving in three runs, going 1-for-3 with two runs scored. Redshirt junior Johnny Day added a pair of RBI with a two-run single, while senior Jason Hockemeyer went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Redshirt junior Sam Johns suffered the tough-luck loss on the mound, as he allowed just one run on one hit in 2.2 innings of relief. Junior starter Cole Isom allowed five runs, four earned, and struck out one in 5.1 innings.
Western Kentucky (25-27) used seven pitchers in the win, as it was a staff day for the Hilltoppers. Ian Tompkins earned the win, as he retired eight of the 10 batters he faced via strikeout, including seven-straight strikeouts, in his 2.2 innings of relief.
UE took advantage of a pair of WKU errors in the bottom of the first to grab an early 1-0 lead, as redshirt sophomore Kevin Kaczmarski reached on an error to lead off the Evansville first and later advanced to third on a single by Hockemeyer and yet another Western Kentucky miscue. Ramon followed by reaching on a fielder’s choice, allowing Kaczmarski to score the first run of the ballgame.
The Hilltoppers tied the game in the top of the second, when Evansville returned the favor by committing an error of its own. Devin Kelly led off the frame by getting hit by a pitch, moved into second on a ground out and took third, when Isom sent a pickoff attempt into center field. Kelly tied the game at 1-1 by scoring on a Ryan Messex ground out.
The Aces regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by redshirt sophomore Kyle Pollock and extended their lead to 6-1 with a four-run fifth. Kaczmarski started a one-out rally with a single to center, senior Chris Pearson followed by getting hit by a pitch and Hockemeyer loaded the bases with a hit to shallow right. Ramon drove in his second and third runs of the game with a double to the gap in right center, before Day capped the scoring with a two-run single back up the middle.
WKU’s bats came alive in the top of the sixth, as Western Kentucky was able to tie the game by scoring five runs on five hits, including four-straight singles. Regan Flaherty, Kelly, Trevor Lowe and Steve Hodgins all drove in runs for the Hilltoppers in the frame.
UE had a chance to counter in the bottom of the inning, as redshirt junior Nick Hathcoat and Pearson walked, and Hockemeyer was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs, but Tompkins was able to get out of the jam by striking out Ramon and keeping Evansville off the scoreboard.
Scott Wilcox provided WKU with the game-winning hit in the top of the eighth by scoring Hodgins with a triple off the wall that gave Western Kentucky its first lead of the game, 7-6.
In the Aces’ half of the ninth, Pearson and Day stood at the corners with two outs, but the Hilltoppers got another key strikeout to seal the victory, as Taylor Haydel froze freshman Shain Showers with an inside fastball to end the game.
Evansville will close its regular season Wednesday at SIU Edwardsville, before opening the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament next Tuesday in Normal, Ill. The first pitch between the Aces and Cougars is slated for 6 p.m.