Big Inning Lifts WKU to Tuesday Win
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- After Kentucky’s offense erupted for eight runs in the fourth inning for an 8-2 lead, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers rallied with an eight-run inning in the bottom of the seventh inning, holding on for an 11-8 win, on Tuesday night in front of 5,142 at Bowling Green Ballpark.
The Wildcats had a breakout offensive inning in the fourth, as UK hit two three-run homers, coming from senior shortstop Taylor Black and sophomore catcher Luke Maile. UK plated eight runs on eight hits in the fourth, the largest run output in a single inning in 2011. WKU used one-run innings in the second, third and fifth innings, before erupting for an eight-run, eight-hit inning to take the lead in the seventh. The Wildcats loaded the bases in the ninth inning, but WKU escaped unscathed
The loss snaps UK’s season-high nine-game non-conference winning streak, dating back to a March 9 loss vs. Middle Tennessee State.
UK was led by Black and Maile, who each charted two hits and three RBI. The Wildcats also got multiple-hit games from J.T. Riddle, Thomas McCarthy, Braden Kapteyn, and Brian Adams, with Riddle tallying two RBI and Adams and McCarthy charting a team-high three knocks, including McCarthy’s Southeastern Conference-leading 15th double. UK also got hits from Michael Williams and Matt Reida.
Kentucky (17-21) starter Jordan Cooper turned in his fourth quality start of the year, tossing six strong innings, allowing eight hits and three runs – two earned – walking two and striking out eight. Of Cooper’s eight hits allowed three came as infield knocks, with the Shelbyville, Tenn., native allowing only single runs in the second, third and fifth frames.
Cooper turned it over to Walter Wijas to start the seventh inning, with the sophomore righty allowing three hits and two runs while getting one out, before freshman Trevor Gott (2-4) took over with the game-tying run in the on-deck circle in the seventh. Gott allowed two hits, two walks and four runs while getting one out in the game for the loss, exiting for senior Nick Kennedy who threw one pitch, which went as a single off the edge of his glove. Gott, a freshman from Tates Creek in Lexington, entered the game having inherited 18 runners with only four scoring in 2011. Lefty Alex Phillips replaced Kennedy and got the final four outs of the game.
Western Kentucky (25-13) starter Taylor Haydel went three innings, allowing six hits and three runs, walking two. He was relieved by Brian Doering in the fourth, with Doering getting two outs and allowing three runs. Rye Davis took over for Doering in the fourth with two outs and went 2.1 frames, allowing four hits and two runs, walking one and striking out two. Ross Hammonds (2-1) picked up the win, going the final three innings, allowing three hits and striking out two.
UK returns to action for a three-game weekend series, hosting No. 12 Arkansas beginning 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. Fans in Lexington can hear the games live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
The Hilltoppers struck for the first run of the game in the second inning, as Chris Bullard connected on a 0-1 pitch from Cooper for a solo homer into the left-centerfield grass seating area. The homer was Bullard’s fourth roundtripper of the year.
WKU got another run in the bottom of the third, taking a 2-0 lead on an unearned tally. Logan Robbins led off with a double down the left-field line, moving to second after Matt Rice reached on an infield single, with McCarthy making a diving snag to keep it in the infield. Kes Carter then loaded the bases with no outs. Ryan Hutchinson followed and hit a grounder back to Cooper, who flipped to Maile at the plate for the force out. Cooper then struck out Bullard for the second out and got Ryan Huck to hit a grounder up the middle. Reida moved up the middle to make the play and opted to throw to first base, with the off-balance throw just jumping out of the glove of Williams, with Rice scoring an unearned run.
UK answered in the top of the fourth, as Kapteyn led off and painted a double down the left-field line. McCarthy followed and smacked his SEC-leading 15th double of the year down the right-field line, moving Kapteyn to third. Riddle followed and drove a double off the wall in left-center, scoring Kapteyn and moving McCarthy to third. That prompted the pitching change, with WKU bringing in sidearm righty Brian Doering to face Maile. Maile belted a 1-2 offering over the left-field fence, a no-doubt bomb that sailed out of the entire stadium into the parking lot for his team-high equaling fifth homer of the year. After two strikeouts, Reida singled through the right side and Wright got hit by his 12th pitch of the year. That brought up Black, who hit a bomb on the first pitch from Davis – the 2010 WKU ace closer – off the wall in the left-field bullpen, his second homer of the year and giving UK a 7-2 lead. Kapteyn then drew a two-out walk and McCarthy collected his second hit in the inning with a knock through the left side. Riddle then singled through the right side to score Kapteyn and make it 8-2.
Rice got WKU on the board with a solo homer – his eighth of the year – sending a 1-1 offering into the wind in leftfield to cut the UK lead to 8-3.
The Hilltoppers took the lead in the seventh inning off the UK bullpen, as Rice led off with a triple off the wall in left-centerfield, his first triple of the year. Carter then singled to the gap, scoring Rice and cutting the UK lead to 8-4. After Wijas got a strikeout for the first out, Bullard tripled down the right-field line, scoring Carter from first base, Bullard’s first three bagger of the year. UK called on Gott with one out, with the freshman getting Huck on a fly out for the second out and after Ivan Harte drew a 3-1 walk, Casey Dykes hit a double into the gap, allowing Bullard to score the sixth run of the game for WKU. With Andreoli at the plate and a 3-2 count, third base umpire Don Gilmore called a balk, allowing Harte to score the seventh run for the Toppers. After Andreoli drew a walk on the first pitch after the balk, Robbins poked a single into rightfield to score the game-tying run. After Rice singled off the tip of Kennedy’s glove on the only pitch the sidearm righty threw, Carter ripped a two-RBI single to leftfield off Phillips to give WKU a 10-8 lead. Hutchinson then singled to rightfield, scoring Rice for an 11-8 lead.
GAME NOTES: Senior Taylor Black has started a team-high 78 consecutive games at shortstop … Junior Michael Williams made his fifth career start at first base … Freshman Matt Reida has started a team-high 19 games at second base … Chad Wright made his 45th consecutive start in the outfield and Braden Kapteyn made his 43rd consecutive start … Black extended his hitting streak to a team-high and career-long 10 games … With a single in the second inning, Luke Maile has now reached base safely in nine consecutive games … Brian Adams had a hit on an 0-2 count in the second inning, his team-high 15th two-strike hit this year … Kapteyn laced his ninth double of the year in the fourth inning … McCarthy hit his SEC-leading 15th double of the year in the fourth and has now doubled in four of the last five games … McCarthy has now reached base safely in 36 of 37 starts this year and in nine consecutive games … J.T. Riddle belted his eighth double of the year in the fourth inning … Maile hit his team-high fifth homer of the year, coming on a 1-2 count, Maile’s 12th two-strike hit of the year … Wright has now reached base safely in 35 of 38 games this year and in 15 consecutive games … Black’s three-run homer in the fourth was his second homer of the year and his team-best 15th two-out RBI of the year … Wright got hit by his 12th pitch of the year, second-best on the team … Riddle’s RBI single in the fourth came with two outs, his eighth two-out RBI of the year … UK’s eight-run inning – on eight hits – in the fourth was the most runs scored by UK in a single inning in 2011 … Adams led off the fifth inning with his third bunt single of the year … UK had several players chart multi-hit games, including Adams (10th in 2011), Black (18th), McCarthy (13th), Maile (10th) and Riddle (ninth) … Black (sixth in 2011), Riddle (sixth) and Maile (fifth) each had multi-RBI games … Black has charted two three-RBI games this year, Maile has two three-RBI outings and Riddle has charted three two-RBI games … Jordan Cooper allowed only two earned runs in six innings, good for his fourth quality start of the year … With eight strikeouts, Cooper fanned the second-most hitters in a single outing of his career, just behind a nine-strikeout outing vs. Utah at the 2011 Houston College Classic … Freshman Trevor Gott allowed the first earned run off him since the April 2 game at No. 3 South Carolina … Michael Williams’ two-strike hit in the eighth inning was his 11th two-strike hit of the year.