Baseball Toppers romp after early onslaught

The Toppers went hitless after the fourth inning Saturday against Illinois-Chicago, but they didn’t need to do much after opening on fire.

Western put up 11 runs on 11 hits in the first four innings against Illinois-Chicago starting pitcher Rafael Garcia on its way to an 11-5 victory Saturday afternoon.

Senior second baseman Matt Payton finished the day with three hits, a single shy of completing the cycle. He racked up five RBI with two runs scored.

“I wanted that single pretty bad, but more than anything else the win was the big part,” Payton said.

The Toppers lit up the scoreboard in the second inning with six runs. Two doubles and two triples were hit in the inning.

“I was proud of how aggressive we were in the second,” Head Coach Chris Finwood said. “With runners in scoring position, we preach to be aggressive in the zone, and we did that with a bunch of extra base hits in a row.”

Sophomore third baseman Casey Dykes and junior catcher Matt Rice hit back to back homeruns in the fourth inning. The Toppers had eight extra base hits for the game, and every position player that started got on base for the second straight day.

Freshman Tanner Perkins worked five innings and gave up three runs. He struck out five batters to get his second win of the year.

“I didn’t think Tanner was super sharp, but he made pitches and stayed out of multiple run innings,” Finwood said.

Brrad Riegler held Western hitless over the last 4.2 innings, but the Toppers were ahead by enough runs that Illinois-Chicago was not able to put a big dent in the deficit.

“We didn’t swing the bat well the last four innings, but that’s something with a young group we have to learn and get better,” Finwood said. “When you have a chance to bury someone you’ve got to do it.”

With the win, the Toppers have now won 14 straight home series.

Western wraps up its series against Illinois-Chicago at 1 p.m. Sunday at Denes Field.

Mike Stunson

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