Strong Pitching, Late-Inning Rally Leads Baseball to Series Win
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- With the game tied at 1-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, the Kentucky baseball team plated two runs and got strong relief pitching from freshman Trevor Gott and senior Mike Kaczmarek, picking up a series-clinching 3-1 win over the University of Illinois Chicago, on Sunday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (4-4) found itself locked in a pitching duel through seven innings, as UK sophomore starter Jordan Cooper battled through 5.1 innings, allowing eight hits but only allowing one run. Gott, a native of Lexington, Ky., and a product of Tates Creek High School, picked up the win, going 2.1 shutout innings in relief of Cooper for his first career win. The 2010 Gatorade Kentucky High School Player of the Year, Gott came on for Cooper in the sixth inning with one out and runners on first and second in a tie game. Gott tossed one pitch to get the inning-ending double play and then helped set up the save for Kaczmarek by tossing a shutout seventh and getting two outs in the eighth.
With the game locked at 1-1 entering the bottom of the seventh, UK mounted the game-winning rally. Freshman J.T. Riddle, a native of Frankfort, Ky., and the reigning Kentucky High School Mr. Baseball, led off the frame with a walk, moving to second on a wild pitch. Brian Adams then got hit by a pitch and freshman second baseman Matt Reida (pronounced: RAY-da) drew a walk to load the bases. With the bases loaded and a new reliever in the game, senior shortstop Taylor Black got hit by a pitch to force in the game-winning run, with Adams later scoring on a balk from UIC’s Chris Hoffman.
The Wildcat offense scratched together five hits and three runs, as five different UK players notched a hit. Junior third sacker Thomas McCarthy added his seventh double in his first eight career UK games, while Chad Wright charted UK’s lone RBI with a first-inning RBI single. Catcher Michael Williams added a single, while Adams and Reida each added a single. Reida added two walks, with Riddle leading off the big seventh inning with a free pass.
UIC (1-6) starter Matt Salemi tossed a quality start despite taking the loss, going six innings and allowing five hits and three runs, walking three without getting a strikeout. UIC used Hoffman and Eric Wyman, with Wyman striking out four over the seventh and eighth innings.
Kentucky does not return to action until traveling to play in the prestigious Houston College Classic, hosted by the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. The event will begin on Friday, with UK facing No. 17 Rice at 8 p.m. ET. Former UK star men’s basketball forward and current member of the Houston Rockets Patrick Patterson will be on hand to throw out the first pitch on Friday. UK will also play Utah and Houston in the three-game weekend, with all three games broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with Dick Gabriel voicing the action.
After UK started the season 0-3 with losses at No. 20 College of Charleston and to Miami (Ohio) and Marshall on opening weekend in Charleston, S.C., the Wildcats completed a 4-1 week in a return to the Commonwealth. UK posted a .181 team average on opening weekend, playing a lineup full of first-year starters. During its four-win week, UK hit .376 (64-for-17) with 19 doubles, four homers and 37 RBI in five games, drawing 22 walks, getting hit by 12 pitches and striking out just 15 times.
Individually during the week, UK enjoyed a breakout five-game stretch from Black. UK’s senior shortstop was nearly unstoppable, batting .529 (9-for-17) with nine runs scored, three doubles, one homer and nine RBI in five games. Black drew five walks and got hit by two pitches, not striking out during the week and stealing one base. In the five-game span, Black had a .882 slugging percentage and a .667 on-base mark.
On the year, Luke Maile leads the team with a .419 average (13-for-31) with four doubles and five RBI, Black has added a .345 average (10-for-29), while McCarthy leads the team with seven doubles, while adding a .344 average (11-for-32).
UK plated a run on two hits in the bottom of the first, taking an early 1-0 lead. After Black grounded out, McCarthy ripped his seventh double of the year, moving to third with Wright at the plate on a wild pitch. Wright then plated Black with a single through the left side of the infield.
UIC evened up the game on its lone run in the top of the third, as Jon Ryan reached on a one-out single, moving to second on an infield single and moving to third on a groundout by Harry Kammholz. With Nick Addison at the plate, Ryan came home to score on a wild pitch. Over the last four runs scored by UIC in the Saturday and Sunday games, three scored by virtue of the wild pitch.