Cooper Pitches Baseball to Sweep over Louisville
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Behind another dominating starting pitching performance from Jordan Cooper and mammoth home runs from Braden Kapteyn and Luke Maile, the Kentucky baseball team posted a 7-1 win over the Louisville Cardinals, sweeping the two-game series, on a gorgeous Tuesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (20-22) swept the series with the Cardinals for the first time since the 2006 UK Southeastern Conference Championship season, with UK owning a 3-2 ninth-inning win earlier in the year at UL on April 12. Since that historic UK 2006 campaign, the two teams have split the series for four consecutive seasons, before the Wildcats swept in 2011, with UK winning 26 of the last 36 meetings in the series with Louisville.
The Wildcats held Louisville without an earned run for the second consecutive meeting in Lexington, as UK posted a 5-0 shutout win over the Cardinals in 2010 at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The Cardinals have not scored an earned run in Lexington since the eighth inning of a win at Cliff Hagan Stadium in 2009, a span of 19 consecutive innings.
Cooper (3-1) hurled his fifth quality start of the year, tossing 6.2 strong innings, allowing only one unearned run. Cooper allowed only five hits and three walks, striking out five and carrying a no-hitter into the fifth inning. A native of Shelbyville, Tenn., Cooper tossed first-pitch strikes to 20-of-26 hitters he faced in his fourth career start against the Cardinals. In his four career starts vs. UL, Cooper has tossed 19.2 innings and allowed only one earned run and in his four midweek starts this year, Cooper has totaled a 2-0 record and a 1.88 ERA. Without his two rough starts vs. Tennessee and at Alabama to open SEC play, Cooper has totaled an impressive 3-0 mark with a 2.45 ERA in eight starts.
Cooper was relieved by lefty Alex Phillips with two outs in the seventh inning, with Phillips getting the final out of the inning and allowing one inherited runner to score, before shutting the door with the final 2.1 frames of shutout relief, striking out two with only two hits surrendered.
The Wildcats pounded out 11 hits and seven runs, drawing four walks and getting plunked by a pitch. Kapteyn and Maile paced UK at the plate, with Kapteyn leading the team with a 3-for-4 game with his sixth homer of the year, a no-doubt blast in the second frame. Maile hit his team-leading seventh jack of the year, also a mammoth bomb over the leftfield fence. UK also got a three-hit game from junior Chad Wright, who also charted three hits in the win at Louisville earlier in the year. Senior shortstop Taylor Black - making a case for the Brooks Wallace National Shortstop of the Year Award - added his 13th double of the year in the first inning, with J.T. Riddle, Michael Williams and Brian Adams each collecting hits. Maile, the 2009 Kentucky High School Mr. Baseball, added two walks in the game, scoring two runs.
Louisville (22-18) starter Mike Nastold (3-5) - who started the year in the UL weekend rotation - went two innings, allowing five hits and four runs, walking two without a strikeout. He was relieved by Chad Green, Dace Kime, Andy Fleet, Cody Ege and Curtis Mccombs.
UK returns to action on Thursday night, traveling to Baton Rouge, La., to take on the 2009 NCAA Champion and NCAA annual attendance leader LSU at Alex Box Stadium. UK will face LSU at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday as part of the ESPN Thursday Night SEC Game of the Week, televised nationally on ESPNU with Dave Neal and Kyle Peterson calling the action. 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, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
Kentucky got the scoring started in the bottom of the first inning, as Wright belted a 2-2 offering into the left-centerfield gap for his 11th double of the year to lead off. Black followed and smacked his 13th double of the year on a 1-2 offering, scoring Wright. That brought up Kapteyn, who singled up the middle to push Black to third base. After Thomas McCarthy hit a hard-hit liner at the rightfielder for the first out, Riddle lined out to shallow centerfield for a sacrifice fly, allowing Black to touch home and make it 2-0 UK. After Maile drew a walk with two outs, Williams smacked a 3-2 offering up the middle for his sixth two-out RBI of the year, scoring Kapteyn and pushing Maile to third.
In the bottom of the second, UK got another run, stretching its lead to 4-0, as Kapteyn pounded a no-doubt blast into the left-centerfield gap, hitting high off the videoboard behind the outfield fence. The homer was Kapteyn's sixth of the year.
Maile gave UK a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, belting a 2-1 offering from Kime well over the leftfield fence, his seventh homer of the year.
The Cardinals got on the board with a run in the top of the seventh inning, cutting the UK lead to 5-1. With two outs, Ryan Seiz singled through the left side and Kyle Greishaber followed with a hard-hit ball deep into the hole on the left side. Black dove and snagged the ball but his throw sailed high, allowing Seiz to move to third base. With runners on the corners, UK turned to Phillips, who induced a high chopper off the plate from pinch hitter Kyle Gibson. Phillips attempted to get Gibson at first, with Seiz hustling to the plate, but his throw was wide, allowing Gibson to reach on an RBI infield hit off the plate.
UK got the run back in the bottom of the seventh inning, as Wright led off with an infield single, taking second on a throwing error. After a fly out, Kapteyn smoked a single through the left side, with Wright holding at third base. McCarthy then scored Wright with a sacrifice fly.
In the eighth, UK added a run to its lead, as Maile drew a lead-off walk, taking second on a passed ball and scoring on Wright's RBI single into leftfield.