Black, Maile Propel Early Rally in UK Win
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Senior shortstop Taylor Black went 4-for-4 with a career-high four runs scored, Luke Maile hit a three-run homer and J.T. Riddle totaled a career-high three RBI, leading the Kentucky baseball team to an 11-8 win over Tennessee Tech, on Tuesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (15-11) saw its offense explode for 11 runs on 14 hits, with the Wildcats drawing five walks and getting plunked by four pitches. Black led the way for UK, going 4-for-4 with a walk, adding a pair of doubles and stealing two bases.
Maile, the 2009 Kentucky High School Mr. Baseball, belted his second homer of the year - a three-run job - going 1-for-2. Riddle, a native of Frankfort, Ky., went 2-for-3 with three RBI and a walk, while Braden Kapteyn added a 3-for-5 game with two RBI. Centerfielder Brian Adams went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Chad Wright and Thomas McCarthy each added hits, with McCarthy now reaching base safely in 13 consecutive games.
The Wildcats got three shutout innings from freshman southpaw Corey Littrell (4-1), who picked up his club-best fourth win of the year with his pre-determined three frames. A native of Louisville, Ky., Littrell allowed only two hits without a walk, striking out three. UK used several pitchers in the game, with Alex Phillips impressing with three strikeouts in four outs, with the Wildcats also tossing Nick Kennedy, Walter Wijas, Jordan Cooper, Trevor Gott and Kapteyn.
Tennessee Tech (8-14) used six pitchers in the game, as the Golden Eagles had their series last weekend cancelled, forcing the usage of the weekend starting rotation in the midweek game with the Wildcats. Starter Tristan Archer (3-3) took the loss, allowing two hits and three runs in one inning, walking two.
UK returns to action for a three-game series at No. 3 South Carolina, beginning Friday. The game will begin at 7 p.m. ET with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the game on WGVN 1580-AM in Lexington and WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville and streamed live on UKathletics.com. Coverage will begin at 6:55 p.m.
Kentucky took an early lead running three across the plate in the opening frame, with the leadoff man Lucas Witt drawing a walk to get things started. Wright advanced Witt into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, opening the way for a single to centerfield by Black. Witt was unable to score on the play leaving runners on first and third with Thomas McCarthy up to bat. McCarthy drew a walk loading the bases with only one out in the inning. Kapteyn, in the five-hole, drove in his first of two RBI on the day with a ground ball to Tennessee Tech's third baseman Zephan Guyear, who had no play but to get the out at first, allowing Witt to score the opening run of the game. Riddle came to the plate with two outs drilling a two-run single to open UK's lead to 3-0.
UK's next big inning came in third, scoring four runs on three hits including a three-run home run by Maile. Black led off the inning with a double to right-centerfield, followed by McCarthy taking first after being hit by a pitch and a bunt single by Kapteyn to load the bases for Riddle, who at this point already has two RBI in the game. Riddle came through again sending a deep fly ball into rightfield, allowing Black to tag on the play and score, extending UK's lead. Next up was Maile, who launched a towering fly ball to left-centerfield, clearing the wall, just left of the scoreboard, for his second home run of the season. With Maile's blast the Wildcats took a commanding 7-0 lead heading into the fourth inning.
The Wildcats put runners on in both the fourth and fifth innings, including two leadoff singles in the fourth but was unable to push them across. In the bottom of the sixth, Black once again led off with a double, his fourth hit of the game, and was later driven in by Kapteyn with a single through the right side.
In the top of the seventh, TTU got on the board with five runs on five hits, taking advantage of an error, with all five runs going as unearned.
UK added two more in the seventh, after Adams reached based after getting plunked by a pitch and later advanced to second on a wild pitch. After a strikeout by Paul McConkey, Wright was able to advance Adams in an unlikely tagging opportunity. With Adams on third, the Golden Eagles decided to intentionally walk Black, who was 4-for-4 on the day. McCarthy was up and took several pitches, giving Black the chance to steal second and place two runners in scoring position. McCarthy then placed a clutch single through the left side, plating two runs to extend UK's lead to 10-5.
Kentucky's final run came in the eighth inning, UK's last at bat, with a leadoff single by Riddle followed by an effective sacrifice bunt advancing Riddle to second base with one out. After a strikeout by Michael Williams, Adams came to the plate and knocked in one run with a sharply hit ball just passed the outstretched arms of the shortstop who was ranging to his right.
TTU got three runs in the top of the ninth, as Casanova Donaldson hit a three-run homer with two outs and two strikes for the final margin.