Baseball Rallies from Behind for 7-6 Win
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Trailing by five runs through three innings, the Kentucky baseball team rallied with seven runs in the middle innings, led by freshman J.T. Riddle and sophomore Luke Maile, to post an 8-7 comeback win over Murray State, on Tuesday evening at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (10-7) allowed Murray State to post a 5-0 lead after three innings, before the Wildcats began mounting a furious rally in the middle frames. Riddle and Maile led the comeback charge, with Riddle coming off the bench to replace injured rightfielder Lucas Witt in the third inning to bat 2-for-2 with a game-high three RBI and a walk. Maile was an offensive force throughout the game, batting 2-for-3 with three runs scored. More importantly, Maile's athleticism changed the game as he stole a career-high two bases, stretched a single into a double and beat out an infield hit.
The Wildcats rapped out 12 hits in the game and drew a total of five walks, stealing six bases and getting four batters hit by pitches.
UK also got a strong offensive game from sophomore centerfielder Brian Adams, who went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a walk, stealing his fourth base of the year. Freshman Dallen Reber also joined the multi-hit party, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base, driving in the go-ahead run with a single to leftfield in the seventh inning.
Kentucky freshman starter Corey Littrell, the reigning Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week, was solid through 5.2 innings, despite allowing nine hits and six runs - five earned. Littrell, a native of Louisville, Ky., was victimized by some defensive miscues in the early innings and allowed a three-run homer in the third inning that gave Murray State a five-run lead. Littrell struck out a career-high six and walked only one in his third career start.
UK reliever Walter Wijas (2-0) picked up the win with one shutout inning in relief of Littrell. Trevor Gott game on and got five outs in the eighth and ninth, setting up the third save of the year for senior southpaw Mike Kaczmarek. Kaczmarek came on with runners on first and second and one out and threw two pitches to get the game-ending ground ball double play.
Murray State (8-8) reliever Mark Roberts took the loss, allowing four hits and three runs through his inning of work.
The Wildcats will open its conference schedule on Friday, hosting Tennessee in a three-game set beginning at 4 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The series will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with Dick Gabriel calling the action. The game on Friday will be broadcast live on WLAP 630-AM in Lexington and is available live on UKathletics.com.
Murray State started the scoring with a run in the second inning, as Jacob Rhodes led off with a double to leftfield, moving to third on Paul Ritzheimer's single up the middle. After a pop out, Colton Moore scored Rhodes with a fielder's choice.
In the third inning, Murray State opened up the game with four runs on four hits and a UK error. Elliot Frey led off with a single hit into the hole of the left side of the infield, reaching second after UK shortstop Taylor Black's jump throw from the hole sailed high for just the second error of the year on UK's slick-fielding middle infielder. After a foul out, Brandon Elliot scored Frey with a single down the line and Travis Isaak singled to leftfield. Littrell then struck out cleanup hitter Rhodes before Ritzheimer's big blast over the leftfield fence gave Murray State a 5-0 lead.
UK began to chip away in the fourth, plating three runs on three hits. Witt led off the inning with a hard-hit single to leftfield and Reber got hit by a one-out pitch. After a wild pitch moved Witt and Reber to scoring position, Adams smacked a two-RBI single up the middle. Matt Reida then smoked a double down the rightfield line to move Adams to third and Chad Wright scored him with an RBI fielder's choice.
In the fifth, UK cut the lead to 6-4, as Maile led off with a double through the right side of the infield, hustling to second base to leg out a double. After Thomas McCarthy laid down a sacrifice bunt, Riddle hammered a sacrifice fly to rightfield to score Maile.
In the top of the sixth inning, Murray State got a run back, taking advantage of an error to lead off the inning. Brand Eggenschwiler reached on an error to start the frame, moving to third on Colton Moore's single and scoring on an RBI fielder's choice.
UK took the lead with three runs on four hits in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Wright led off with a single to rightfield and Maile got hit by his second pitch of the game. Wright was nabbed stealing but Maile stole second and then third base, his first career multi-steal game. McCarthy drew a walk and stole second to put two runners in scoring position and Riddle delivered the big blow with a game-tying, two-RBI single to the gap in left-centerfield. After Riddle stole second base, Reber drove him in with a hard-hit single to leftfield, giving UK its first lead of the game.