Littrell, Kapteyn Pitch Baseball to Win over Cincy
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky freshman southpaw Corey Littrell tossed his third quality start of the season and junior righty Braden Kapteyn struck out the side in the ninth inning for the save, lifting the Wildcats to a 4-2 win over Cincinnati, on a gorgeous Tuesday night in front of a spirited crowd at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (13-8, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) rode strong pitching performances from Littrell and Kapteyn at opposite ends of the game, with Littrell hurling six strong innings, allowing only one run and two walks, striking out four. UK turned to senior Mike Kaczmarek for the save up 4-1 in the top of the ninth and UC worked a leadoff walk and doubled into the gap with no outs. That brought Kapteyn out of the pen and the 6-foot-4, 220-pound two-way standout struck out the side with one inherited run scoring on a wild pitch. The save was the second of the year for Kapteyn and the eighth of his two-year career, moving him into a tie for eighth place all-time on the UK career save list.
UK got some strong offensive performances from its lineup, as freshman J.T. Riddle – the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week – and catcher Michael Williams each registered three hits. Riddle extended his hitting streak to a team and career-long nine games, also adding his fifth double of the season. Williams went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a team-best two runs scored, adding an RBI and stealing his first two career bases. Kapteyn, Chad Wright, Thomas McCarthy and Brian Adams each added hits, with Adams painting an RBI double down the leftfield line.
Cincinnati (10-7) starter Thomas Gentile (0-1) took the loss despite hurling a quality outing, going six innings and allowing six hits and two runs, walking four and striking out four.
UK will return to action on Wednesday, hosting Canisius 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. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
Kentucky got on the board in the bottom of the second inning, plating one run on three hits to take a 1-0 lead. McCarthy led off the inning with a single through the left side of the infield, moving to second on a wild pitch and taking third after Riddle poked a single to leftfield. Luke Maile scored McCarthy with a sacrifice fly, driven to rightfield.
UC tied the game up at 1-1 with a run on two hits in the fifth inning. Jake Saylor led off the inning with a single through the gap on the left side of the infield and Matt Williams followed with a single through the right side. After a sacrifice bunt went as a fielder’s choice with UK attempting to get the lead runner, UC loaded the bases with no outs. Littrell induced a slow roller to second base, with UK just missing turning the double play and Saylor scoring on the fielder’s choice. After a walk to Jake Proctor loaded the bases, Littrell settled down to strike out the No. 2 and No. 3 hitters to leave the bases loaded and the game remain tied at 1-1.
The Wildcats regained the lead with a run on two hits in the fifth inning, as Williams led off with a double off the base of the wall in leftfield, moving to second on Adams third walk of the year. After Black laid down a perfect bunt single to load the bags, Wright launched a sacrifice fly to centerfield, allowing Williams to score from third. UC intentionally walked Kapteyn to load the bases with one out and McCarthy hit into an inning-ending double play with UK leading 2-1.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, UK plated two runs on four hits to extend its lead. Riddle led off the inning with a single into the gap, moving to second on Maile’s sacrifice bunt. After Matt Reida popped out, Williams drove an RBI single through the right side to score Riddle. Adams then painted the double down the left-field line, scoring Williams, who stole second and third while Adams was at the plate.
UC wouldn’t go down without a fight, as pinch hitter T.J. Jones drew a walk to lead off the inning and Proctor doubled into the gap. With Chris Peters at the plate and Kapteyn inserted on the mound, Jones came around to score on a wild pitch. Kapteyn then struck out the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 hitters in the UC lineup to end the game.