Rogers, Williams Boost Baseball to Series-Opening Win
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Behind seven strong innings from southpaw Taylor Rogers and the third homer of the year from junior Michael Williams, the Kentucky baseball team posted a 9-2 series-opening win over Niagara, on Friday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Rogers fired seven strong innings, allowing only two runs with one walk and five strikeouts, tallying his third quality start in four efforts this year. A native of Littleton, Colo., Rogers has now made nine quality starts in his two-year career. A 6-foot-3, 170-pound sophomore, Rogers tossed 92 pitches with 61 going for strikes.
UK got a strong offensive performance in the game as the Wildcats charted nine hits, six walks and two hit batters at the plate. UK was led offensively by Braden Kapteyn, who went 3-for-5 with two RBI and his fourth double of the year. Williams provided the big punch offensively, belting his team-leading third homer of the year, going 2-for-4 with an RBI. Freshman Dallen Reber, who pinch hit in the bottom of the eighth inning for his second career at bat, belted a no-doubt blast over the left-centerfield fence for his first career hit, a two-run homer.
The Wildcats also got a splendid offensive game from freshman J.T. Riddle, who went 1-for-1 with a walk, hit by pitch and an RBI double in the game. Centerfielder Brian Adams extended his hitting streak to a team-best eight games with an RBI double down the line, while third baseman Thomas McCarthy has now reached base safely in 13 of his first 14 career games at Kentucky, drawing a walk in four plate appearances. Catcher Luke Maile also drew two walks in the game, while senior shortstop Taylor Black added an RBI on a sacrifice fly in the first inning. Leftfielder Chad Wright went 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored, adding his fourth double of the year in the eighth.
Kentucky (7-7) also used veterans Kapteyn and Kennedy on the mound in the eighth and ninth, as Kennedy worked a scoreless eighth with a strikeout and Kapteyn twirled a shutout ninth with two strikeouts.
UK will return to action on Saturday as the series resumes, facing Niagara at 1 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on WGVN 1580-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
The Wildcats jumped on the board in the first inning, as Wright and freshman Paul McConkey drew walks with one out, scoring when Kapteyn painted the leftfield line with a double.
Niagara (2-10) cut the lead with a run in the third, as Adam Wagner singled with one out up the middle and Cam Stykemain laid down a bunt single. Eric Hink then scored Wagner with a single up the middle.
In the third, McCarthy led off the inning with a double and Williams beat out an infield hit. After a great sacrifice bunt from Riddle, Black lined a hard-hit ball to leftfield for a sacrifice fly.
UK added a run in the fourth, as Williams belted a one-out bomb over the leftfield fence, his third homer of the year.
The Wildcats stretched its lead with a pair of runs in the seventh, as Kapteyn singled to leftfield with one out and stole second base. After Maile lined out to centerfield, Adams doubled down the line in leftfield, stealing third base and coming around to score on a botched throw to third on the stolen base attempt.
In the top of the eighth inning, the Purple Eagles plate a run on three hits, with Wagner leading off with a single up the middle and stealing second base. After Stykemain singled up the middle, Hink scored Wagner with a single to leftfield.
Kentucky opened up the game with three runs in the eighth inning, as Riddle got hit by a pitch with one out, stealing second for his first steal of his career. Wright then doubled to rightfield, scoring Riddle and bringing up Reber for his second career at bat. Reber worked the count to 3-1 before connecting on a no-doubt blast into the gap in left-centerfield, scoring Wright and giving Reber his first career hit and homer.
Niagara starter Drew Fittry (2-1) took the first loss of his career, allowing four hits and four runs on four walks through four innings. Fittry owned two wins entering the game, picking up road wins at Virginia Tech and George Mason.
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