Late-Rally Falls Short in 8-7 Loss to No. 17 Rice

Box Score | Photo Gallery 

HOUSTON -- Down 7-3 heading to the top of the seventh, the Kentucky baseball team mounted two-run rallies in the seventh and eighth innings but came up short in an 8-7 loss to No. 17 Rice on Friday, the first day of the Houston College Classic, hosted by the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

The Wildcats found itself in a 7-3 hole entering the top of the seventh inning when UK plated two runs in the seventh and two runs in the eight to pull within striking distance of the Owls. Rice's solo homer in the bottom of the seventh proved to the difference in the one-run game.

Kentucky (4-5) totaled 13 hits in the game off Rice Friday-night starter Matthew Reckling and the strong Owls pitching staff. UK was led at the plate by third baseman Thomas McCarthy, who totaled a 3-for-5 game, although his streak of doubles in six consecutive games was snapped. The Wildcats also got a two-run homer from Braden Kapteyn, his second of the year and the first homer hit in the first 25 innings at Minute Maid Park on Friday. Kapteyn finished 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI and two hit by pitches.

UK also got multi-hit games from senior shortstop Taylor Black, the reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Week, junior outfielder Chad Wright and freshman J.T. Riddle. UK also got hits from Brian Adams and Luke Maile, with freshman Matt Reida notching an RBI.

UK starter Taylor Rogers (0-1) took his first loss of the year, allowing 10 hits and six runs through 5.2 innings. UK reliever Walter Wijas snapped his streak of not allowing a run in his first 8.2 innings in 2011 with 1.1 innings and allowing four hits and two runs. Senior Mike Kaczmarek and freshman Trevor Gott combined to get UK through the ninth inning, with Gott getting Rice star Anthony Rendon, the reigning NCAA Player of the Year, to ground out.

Rice (7-4) reliever Abe Gonzales picked up the win with 4.1 sterling innings in relief of Reckling. Gonzales (2-0) went 4.1 innings, allowing six hits and two runs. Closer and first baseman J.T. Chargois picked up the save with a perfect 1.2 innings to end the game, striking out three.  

Kentucky will return to action on Saturday, playing in its second game of the HCC. UK will face Houston at 4:30 p.m. ET at Minute Maid Park. UK will turn to junior right-hander Alex Meyer for the start. The game will be broadcast live in Lexington WGVN 1580-AM and online at UKathletics.com.

Rice struck for two runs in the first inning, as Daniel Gonzales-Luna drew a walk to lead off the game, with J.T. Chargois reaching base on a fielder's choice with Gonzales-Luna out at second. Anthony Rendon followed and on a 1-2 offering from Rogers pulled a double down the left-field line, putting two runners in scoring position. Cleanup hitter Jeremy Rathjen then doubled into the spacious right-centerfield gap, allowing both runs to score.

UK immediately answered in the second half inning, plating three runs on three hits to take a 3-2 lead. Michael Williams led off with his third walk of the year and Riddle laid down a perfect bunt single. After a wild pitch moved both runners up a base, Adams poked a single to centerfield, scoring Williams. Reida then laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Riddle from third. Wright then drove in the go-ahead run on a fielder's choice.

Rice plated two runs on four hits in the third inning, as Chargois led off with a single and Rendon followed with his second consecutive two-strike hit, a line drive to leftfield. Rathjen then loaded the bases with a single through the infield and after an infield pop-up, Geoff Perrott singled up the middle to score a pair.

In the sixth inning, Rice scored three times on five hits to chase Rogers from the mound. After Perrott led off with a ground out, Michael Aquino singled to rightfield and Shane Hoelsher singled through the middle. After Rogers struck out Ryan Lewis for the first out, UK turned to Wijas in relief. Wijas got a ground ball hit right back to the mound but it bounced out of Wijas' glove, scoring one. Chargois then singled and Rendon plated the third run with a single popped into rightfield.

The Wildcats started their furious rally in the top of the seventh, as Maile led off the inning with a hard-hit single through the right side. That brought up Kapteyn, who hit a towering jack over the high wall in leftfield at Minute Maid Park. The homer was the second of the year for Kapteyn and was the first homer hit in the first 25 innings played in the HCC at Minute Maid Park.

Rice got a run back in the bottom of the seventh, as Ratteree led off with a solo homer over the left-field fence.

In the top of the eighth, Black led the frame off with a double down the left-field line and McCarthy moved him into scoring position with a single down the right-field line. After Black scored on a wild pitch with Wright at the plate, Wright singled to rightfield, putting runners on the corners. Maile then hung a sacrifice fly to left-centerfield, just shy of clearing the high out-of-town-scoreboard. Kapteyn then got hit by his second pitch of the game to load the bases. Rice got out of the jam by striking out Michael Williams and getting Riddle to ground out on a two-strike offering.