By Jim Turner

Posted on March 29, 2017 3:17 PM

Former Logan County High All-American pitcher Caleb Bruner had the honor of being the starting pitcher Tuesday against not only the best team on the WKU Hilltoppers’ schedule but maybe the best team on any school’s schedule.

Bruner, who was Kentucky’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2015, was on the mound when the Toppers faced the Louisville Cardinals at Jim Patterson Stadium. Coach Dan McDonnell’s team is currently ranked second in the nation after having been number one the week before. U of L won this game 11-1 to run its record to 22-2.

It was only the second game in which Bruner has pitched in almost a year. He is still working his way back from an elbow injury which required Tommy John surgery last spring.

The plan was for Bruner to throw only one inning, regardless of what happened in the game, and that’s what he did.

He faced seven Cardinals—Josh Stowers. Colby Fitch, Devin Hairston, Brendan McKay, Drew Ellis, Colin Lyman and Devin Mann, allowing 1 run on 2 hits and a walk. He struck out the always-tough Ellis after walking McKay, a two-time First Team All-American who is considered the best pro prospect in college baseball.

A big play came when Bruner had a full count on Mann with two Cards aboard. He got Mann pop up to shallow right-center on a 3-2 pitch. The Topper outfielders were playing Mann deep, but in came Colie Currie for a half-sliding, half-diving grab to save at least two runs, ending Bruner’s outing positively.

Bruner threw 26 pitches in that inning, half of them for strikes.

The lone Topper run came in the third inning off Louisville starter Shane Hummel. Currie led off the third with his second triple of the season down the rightfield line, and scored on a productive ground out by Kevin Lambert to the Louisville second baseman. But the Cardinals scored the final eight runs of the game to push the final score to 11-1.

Jeff Ciocco. Michael Hicks, Bailey Sutton and Brett Vansant all pitched for Western.

Bruner’s dad. Chris, said Caleb was “a little sore” Wednesday but it was “the normal sore,” not anything related to the injury. Caleb had experienced soreness after the three innings he worked in a start against Lipscomb a couple of weeks earlier and had been held out of action to let it rehab.

What’s Up Next

The Hilltoppers host No. 25 Southern Miss for a three-game Conference USA series at Nick Denes Field from Friday, March 31 to Sunday, April 2. The Golden Eagles stand at 19-5 this season going into a pair of midweek matchups against South Alabama and New Orleans at home, and have started league play with a 5-1 mark combined against Louisiana Tech and Marshall.


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