Homers Power Baseball to 15-Run Outburst
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Behind a grand slam from catcher Luke Maile, a home run and five RBI from third baseman Thomas McCarthy and the first homer of the season from centerfielder Brian Adams, the Kentucky Wildcats pounded out a season-high 15 runs in a 15-2 drubbing of Xavier, on Tuesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The Wildcats belted three homers in the game, with Maile hitting his first career grand slam, McCarthy launching his third homer of the year and Adams sending a towering jack over the left-field fence for his first roundtripper of the season. McCarthy led the offensive charge, going 2-for-4 with a career-high five RBI, scoring three times. Adams finished 2-for-4 with a double and a stolen base, driving in two RBI. Maile finished 1-for-3 with two walks and four RBI.
UK jumped out of the gates with six runs in the first inning, adding two in the fourth, three in the sixth and four runs in the seventh inning. UK totaled 11 hits and eight walks in the game, getting hit by three pitches.
Braden Kapteyn also had an excellent outing at the plate and in relief, hurling two shutout innings to close out the game and going 3-for-5 with a career-high four runs scored and an RBI. The Wildcats also got hits from Chad Wright, Taylor Black and J.T. Riddle, with Black getting plunked by a pitch, drawing a walk and doubling off the top of the wall in leftfield.
Kentucky (16-14) posted its eighth consecutive non-conference win, as starter Jordan Cooper turned in five strong innings, allowing six hits and two runs, not issuing a walk with six strikeouts. UK used Walter Wijas and Mike Kaczmarek in relief, before Kapteyn struck out three over two shutout innings to end the game, his team-high ninth game finished this year, ranking fifth in the Southeastern Conference. Kapteyn has struck out 22 and walked only two in his 12.1 innings in relief this year.
Xavier (16-14) starter Vinny Nittoli (3-1) took the first loss of the campaign, as UK plated six runs on three hits and three walks in his lone inning of work.
UK returns to action with a three-game series, hosting No. 30 Auburn starting Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. All three games will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action.
Kentucky opened the top half of the first inning with six runs, the most runs scored by the Wildcats this season, led by a three-run homerun to leftfield by McCarthy. It was the junior's third homerun of the season, tying him for the team lead. Kapteyn, who reached base on a fielder's choice, Riddle, who scorched a liner into right field resulting in a single, both scored on McCarthy's homer. Maile, the next batter, drew a walk followed by a fly out to center by Michael Williams with Adams up next. Adams belted a two-run, towering blast to leftfield marking his first home run of the season and the second of his career. Riddle drove in Wright, who reached on a walk, for the game's first run with a single through the right side.
Xavier got on the board with a run in the second inning, as Phil Bauer drilled a homer over the leftfield fence.
In the fourth inning, XU got a run on three hits, as John McCambridge doubled down the line, with Thomas scoring him from second with a single.
After Xavier closed the lead to 6-2, Kentucky upperclassmen Black and Kapteyn led off the fourth inning with back-to-back doubles. Kapteyn crossed home plate after a wild pitch to push UK's lead to six at 8-2.
The Wildcats extended their six-run lead to nine with a three spot in the sixth inning. Black reached base after being hit by a pitch followed by a Kapteyn single through the left side of the infield. With two on, McCarthy stepped to the plate already with three RBI in the game. The junior shot a single into right-center field plating two more runs bring his RBI total to five. His five RBI is a single-game high for Kentucky this season.
In the seventh inning, UK plated four runs on two hits, all coming with two outs. Kapteyn started the two-out rally with a single to centerfield and Riddle got hit by a pitch and McCarthy drew a walk to load the bags. That brought up Maile, who sent his third homer of the year over the left-centerfield fence for his first career grand slam.