Kapteyn's Two Homers, Six-RBI Pace No. 20 Baseball to Win over No. 19 Ole Miss
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Sophomore Braden Kapteyn belted two three-run home runs to collect a career-high six RBI and sophomore right-hander Alex Meyer struck out a season-high 10, leading the No. 20 Kentucky Wildcats to a 12-3 win over 19th-ranked Ole Miss, on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kapteyn, a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder had a career day at the plate, launching a pair of three-run homers, including one in the bottom of the first inning and another in the sixth inning, finishing 3-for-5 with a career-best six RBI. In addition, Kapteyn’s two outs were well struck, both line drive shots caught in centerfield and at shortstop.
A 6-foot-9, 220-pounder, Meyer had the best start of the season, going 6.2 innings and allowing four walks with a season-high 10 strikeouts. The Greensburg, Ind., native, picked up his first career Southeastern Conference win, allowing three runs, with all three runs coming in the sixth and seventh innings, his final frames of work. Meyer, an Aflac All-American in high school, tossed scoreless innings in his first five frames, retiring the first eight Ole Miss hitters he faced.
Kentucky (15-5, 1-2 SEC) also got three hits from preseason All-American second baseman Chris Bisson, who went 3-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBI. A gritty and hard-nosed player, Bisson had to miss five games last week due to injury and is batting .370 (20-for-54) with two homers and 13 RBI through 15 games this season. Senior centerfielder Keenan Wiley added three RBI, all coming on a three-run homer in the fifth inning, his third jack of the season. On the year, Wiley, a native of Richmond, Ky., is hitting .357 (25-for-70) with 17 RBI.
After Meyer came out of the game in the seventh inning, UK turned to right-handed junior closer Matt Little, who continued to assert his late-inning dominance, tossing 2.1 shutout innings, allowing just one harmless hit, striking out four without issuing a walk. In eight relief appearances this season, Little has totaled a 1-0 record and a 0.59 ERA, totaling a team-best four saves in 17.2 innings, striking out 25 and allowing opponents to hit for a .111 average. A 5-foot-11 native of Virginia Beach, Va., Little has tossed 11 consecutive scoreless innings, not allowing a run since his second-career appearance, a 3.1-inning outing against Bowling Green.
The win for UK snaps a seven-game losing streak at the hands of the defending SEC Co-Champion Rebels, who claimed the series on SEC-opening weekend with wins Friday and Saturday. UK’s win was its first against Ole Miss since James Paxton hurled a complete-game shutout in Lexington against the Rebels on the final weekend of the 2008 season. Last season, Ole Miss split the regular-season title with eventual NCAA champion LSU.
Ole Miss (15-5, 2-1 SEC) starter Matt Tracy (1-2) took the loss, after allowing six hits and six runs through his 4.2 innings of action. Tracy walked three and struck out three before exiting in the fifth inning. Ole Miss turned to closer David Goforth, who allowed five hits and six runs, getting one out before being relieved by Trent Rothlin. Rothlin tossed three perfect innings to finish out the game for the Rebels, striking out three.
UK will return to action Tuesday, hosting defending Atlantic 10 Conference champion and 2009 NCAA Tournament participant Xavier at 6:30 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.
The Wildcats got three runs on two hits in the bottom of the first inning, taking a 3-0 lead. Andy Burns drew a four-pitch walk with one out and Bisson lined an opposite-field single into leftfield, bringing Kapteyn to the plate. Kapteyn, a native of Lansing, Ill., worked to count to 2-1 and ripped the offering from Tracy over the leftfield fence for his second homer of the year.
After a scoreless second inning, UK broke through with a run in the bottom of the third inning, as Bisson led off with an infield single, beating out a throw from second base on a high chopper. After Kapteyn lined out with a hard-hit ball into centerfield, Cory Farris came to the plate. Farris turned on a pitch, belting it off the glove of the outstretched Ole Miss second baseman, Alex Yarbrough, sending the ball skidding into shallow rightfield. Bisson never looked back, hustling all the way to get to third, just beating the throw in a collision with Ole Miss third sacker Zach Miller. In the collision, the ball got away from Miller, allowing Bisson to score the unearned run, with Farris attempting to hustle into third. Farris was out on an amazing play from Ole Miss shortstop, Kevin Mort, who got the out as Mort and Farris slid into third base at the same time, with Mort just getting the tag down during his dive.
UK added three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, chasing Tracy from the game and taking a 7-0 lead. With one out, Kapteyn singled into leftfield and after a Farris fly out, catcher Marcus Nidiffer singled through the left side of the infield for his first hit of the series. Wiley followed and drilled a homer hit high over the 30-foot high wall in leftfield, his third homer of the year, a three-run job.
Ole Miss got a run back in the top of the sixth, as Tim Ferguson doubled into the left-centerfield gap with one out, his fifth double of the year. Matt Snyder then drew his second walk of the game, with Ferguson stealing third base on ball four to Snyder. Zach Miller found a gap in the left side of the infield, grounding a single through the left side for the first Ole Miss run of the game.
UK answered in the bottom half of the sixth inning, plating five runs to take a commanding 12-1 lead. The inning started with a base hit up the middle by Taylor Black, who advanced to second on a wild pitch. After a walk to Chad Wright and a bunt single by Burns, Bisson hammered a single through the right side of the infield to plate two runs. Kapteyn then finished the deal with his second 3-run bomb on the day.