Jared Andreoli’s two-out, two-RBI double in the bottom of the 12th completed a wild come-from-behind Western Kentucky victory Wednesday as No. 4 WKU overcame two extra-inning deficits to earn an 11-10 victory in 12 innings over No. 5 Florida Atlantic during the first day of pool play at the 2011 Sun Belt Baseball Tournament in Monroe, La.
The win exorcised some demons for the Hilltoppers, who suffered an 13-inning loss to FAU during the first day of the 2010 tournament in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
With the victory, WKU moves to 1-0 in pool play and will face No. 8 Arkansas-Little Rock at 3 p.m. today.
After blowing a lead in the ninth and coming back from a two-run deficit to tie the game in the bottom of the 11th, WKU once again faced the same fate in the bottom of the 12th – as FAU plated two off Hilltopper reliever Phil Wetherell to go up 10-8 in the top of the frame.
The Hilltopper rally would begin with a one-out single from Ryan Huck, followed by a walk from Scott Wilcox. Following a Casey Dykes strikeout, Ivan Hartle would draw the Hilltoppers that much closer with a two-out RBI single to left that scored pinch-runner Jordan Cessna and made it a 10-9 contest.
Andreoli – who finished the day 5 for 6 – then stepped into the hero’s role from there.
The junior left-fielder laced a two-out pitch from FAU closer Hugh Adams into the gap in left-center, bringing pinch-runner David Simmons in from second and Hartle in from first to score the game-winning run – giving the Hilltoppers the dramatic victory.
After a Logan Robbins grand slam put WKU up 6-2 in the fifth, the Hilltoppers found themselves clinging to a one-run lead in the top of the ninth with regular starter Justin Hageman on the mound. Hageman didn’t fare well, though, as Church’s one-out homer to left tied things up at 6-6.
The Hilltopppers would go quietly in the bottom of the ninth, sending the game to extra innings.
FAU struck first in the extra time, as Nick Delguidice blasted a two-out, two-run homer to left off WKU reliever Ross Hammonds to give the Owls their first lead of the game at 8-6.
The Hilltoppers weren’t done, though, as Jared Andreoli started a two-out rally by being hit by a pitch. Andreoli would then score on an RBI triple from Kes Carter, making it 8-7. Matt Rice then tied things up once again with a two-out single to left – making it 8-8.
But the WKU bullpen struggles would only continue in the top of the 12th, as Phil Wetherell gave up a single to FAU relief pitcher Hugh Adams before Church struck again – this time with an RBI double.
Church then moved to third on a wild pitch from Wetherell and was eventually brought home for insurance on an RBI sacrifice fly from Dan Scheffler to make it 10-8.
But the Hilltoppers would have the last laugh from there.
For a full recap of Wednesday’s game, see Thursday’s Daily News