Homers Power No. 24 Baseball in Win Tuesday

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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Taylor Black, Cory Farris and Marcus Nidiffer each launched home runs and reliever Nick Kennedy struck out five in his first career win, as the No. 24 Kentucky baseball team posted an 11-6 win over Xavier, on Tuesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Kentucky (16-5) got three homers in the game in a back-and-forth affair, with the lead exchanged or the game tied nine times in the contest. UK’s junior shortstop, Black, belted his first homer in the UK uniform, going a perfect 1-for-1 with two runs and three RBI in the game, drawing a walk and laying down an RBI sacrifice bunt. Farris, a native of Florence, Ky., hit his team-leading sixth homer of the year, a two-run job in the third inning. Nidiffer, a member of the Johnny Bench Catcher of the Year award watch list, came off the bench late in the game and totaled two at bats, belting his third homer of the season in the seventh inning, a two-run shot muscled over the leftfield fence.

A native of Los Angeles, Kennedy picked up his first-career win with 2.2 innings in relief in the middle innings. A junior submariner, who missed all but two games last season due to injury, allowed his first run of the season, two hits and struck out a career-high five. UK’s Mike Kaczmarek and Matt Little tossed the eighth and ninth innings, with Little fanning two in a perfect ninth. Little, who was named to the National Pitcher of the Year Watch List earlier Tuesday, improved his ERA to 0.48, striking out 27 in 18.2 innings, allowing only six hits and a .105 opponent average in 2010. Kennedy now owns a 0.90 ERA in 10 innings, striking out 13 and totaling a 1-0 record and a save.

Kentucky got two doubles, two runs and two RBI from Paducah, Ky., native Chad Wright and a club-best three-hit outing from preseason All-American second baseman Chris Bisson. Braden Kapteyn, Gunner Glad and Keenan Wiley each added hits, with junior Lance Ray charting a 2-for-2, one walk, two runs scored day.

UK starter Sam Kidd went two innings, allowing one run and three hits, with two of his hits allowed coming on infield singles bounced off his glove on the mound. The Wildcats also used freshman right-hander Jordan Cooper, who went two innings and allowed three runs – two earned – and Kyle Jackson in the game. Jackson, a native of Kearney, Mo., got one out and allowed three hits and one unearned run.

Xavier (4-15) starter Brian Muransky (0-5) took the loss, allowing eight hits and six runs in his 3.2 innings of action.

Kentucky returns to action Friday in its second SEC series of the year, traveling to Nashville to face off with No. 20 Vanderbilt, Friday-Sunday. All games will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with Dick Gabriel calling the action.

The Musketeers struck first, with John McCambridge reaching base with a hit off Kidd’s glove. McCambride advanced to second after a base hit to right field from Neil Lindgren. With another hit off Kidd’s glove from Ben Thomas, McCambridge came in to take the early lead.  

UK answered with a run in the bottom of the first inning, as Wright led off with a double into the opposite-field gap, moving to third on Bisson’s single into left. Kapteyn scored Wright with a single poked into rightfield.

In the bottom of the second, UK added a run on one hit, taking a 2-1 lead. Wiley led off the inning with a double drilled into right-centerfield, moving to third base on a wild pitch. Black scored Wiley with a sacrifice bunt down the third-base line.

Xavier notched two runs off two hits in the top of the third to claim a 4-3 lead. Thomas led off the inning with a walk and Bobby Freking followed with a base hit down the middle. After a sacrifice bunt from Phil Bauer, Matt Kleifges singled down the opposite-field line, scoring two runs.

Kentucky regained the lead with two runs in the bottom of the third, as Bisson reached to lead off with a bunt pushed down the first-base line. After Kapteyn made out, Farris hit his team-leading sixth homer of the year, a first pitch line-drive down the right-field line. Of Farris’ six homers this year, five have come on first pitches.

Xavier answered with a run in the top of the fourth, evening up the game at 4-4. McCambridge singled on a bunt with one out, moving into scoring position after a groundout. McCambridge came around to score after Neil Lindgren hit into a UK two-out fielding error.

UK answered with two runs in the bottom of the fourth, taking a 6-4 lead. Ray led off with a single up the middle and Black belted his first homer of the year, a shot over the left-field fence.

XU got a run back in the top of the fifth, cutting the lead to 6-5, as Bauer singled with one out, scoring on a single and an error in leftfield.  

The Musketeers evened up the game with a run in the top of the sixth as Lindgren drew a leadoff walk and Freking drawing his first walk of the game. Bauer scored Lindgren with a single up the middle.

UK regained the lead with three, two-out runs in the bottom of the sixth, taking a 9-6 lead. Ray reached one-out single, chopped up the middle and Black got hit by his club-high 12th pitch of the year. Wright came through with a double, lined off the wall in leftfield, scoring Ray and Black. Bisson then came through with a single hit into the right-centerfield gap, scoring Wright and making it 9-6.

The Wildcats added two runs in the seventh frame, as Glad doubled off the wall in left-centerfield, scoring after Nidiffer drove his third homer of the year over the leftfield fence.