Niagara Falls to UK Baseball, Wildcats Sweep Series
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky sophomore starter Jordan Cooper allowed one run in 6.2 innings and senior reliever Mike Kaczmarek notched a six-out save, leading the UK baseball team to a 2-1 win over Niagara, sweeping the series on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (9-7) wrapped up the final non-conference weekend of the season with a series sweep over the Purple Eagles, riding stellar pitching throughout the weekend, allowing only three runs in three games. The Wildcats got a quality start from Cooper, who battled through 6.2 innings despite not having his best stuff. Cooper, a native of Shelbyville, Tenn., allowed six hits and one run, with the lone run coming on two hits in the first inning, including a game-opening leadoff double. Cooper walked four and struck out three, tossing his second consecutive quality start.
The Wildcats faced a 1-0 deficit heading to the bottom of the seventh inning. UK mounted the game-winning rally, beginning when freshman third baseman Dallen Reber - making his first career start - singled to lead off the frame. After a pinch runner was inserted in the form of Matt Reida and Michael Williams laid down a sacrifice bunt, Brian Adams poked a single to rightfield, moving Reida to third and bringing up freshman rightfielder Lucas Witt. A native of Lexington, Ky., Witt made his first start since suffering an injury on Feb. 23 and delivered the game-tying RBI in the seventh. Facing a two-strike count, Witt blooped a single down the leftfield line, allowing Reida to score the game-tying run. After Chad Wright drew a walk to load the bases for senior shortstop Taylor Black with one out, Black grounded out, allowing Adams to score the go-ahead run.
Alex Phillips (1-1) was used for one out in the top of the seventh and after Phillips gave up a leadoff double, UK turned to Kaczmarek out of the pen. The native of Orland Park, Ill., was dominating, getting six consecutive outs for his second save of the year, not allowing a runner and striking out one. Phillips picked up his first career win by getting the out in the seventh.
Adams led UK at the plate with the lone-multi-hit game among the Wildcats, with the Gainesville, Ga., native going 2-for-3 with his fifth double of the season. Six of UK's nine starters collected hits in the game, with Wright going 1-for-2 with his team-best 10th walk of the year. Catcher Luke Maile collected his fifth double of the season, with Thomas McCarthy also collecting a hit.
Kentucky completed another five-game week with four wins, suffering the lone loss to Middle Tennessee State on Wednesday. The Wildcats had dynamic pitching performances throughout the five games, totaling a 1.40 ERA as a team in 45 innings, striking out 45 and walking 13. At the plate during the week, Wright led UK, batting .500 (8-for-16) with two doubles, one homer and five RBI, drawing three walks, getting hit by three pitches without striking out and stealing 4-of-5 bases. On the mound, junior righty Alex Meyer turned in the start of the year, striking out 13 in a complete-game shutout on Saturday.
The Wildcats return to action on Tuesday for its final non-conference tune up before opening Southeastern Conference play by hosting Tennessee on Friday. Kentucky will face Murray State at 4 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium and 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.
Niagara (2-12) starter Joel Klock (0-5) took the loss in his fifth start of the year, despite hurling a quality outing. Klock allowed seven hits and two runs through 6.1 innings. Eric Hink and Cam Stykemain led NU at the plate with two hits each.
The Purple Eagles got its lone run on the game in the first inning, as Stykemain led off with a double into the right-centerfield gap. After a productive groundout from Adam Wagner moved Stykemain to third, Hink scored him with a single up the middle, just out of the reach of a diving McCarthy.
HENDERSON POSTGAME WITH NEIL PRICE