No. 25 Kent Outlasts No. 11 UK in Wild 21-Inning Marathon
June 2, 2012
GARY, Ind. -- In the second-longest game in the history of the college baseball postseason, No. 25 Kent State got an RBI triple in the top of the 21st inning and held on for a 7-6 win over No. 11 Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA Gary Regional, hosted by No. 14 Purdue on a bitterly cold Friday night at U.S. Steel Yard.
Kentucky (43-17) and Kent State dueled in a marathon of a game that marked the second-longest game in the history of the NCAA Tournament. In the longest game played in Southeastern Conference history, the Wildcats and the Flashes battled through over two complete games in a tilt that saw a total of 38 hits and 43 runners left on base, lasting six hours and 37 minutes. UK used all of its position players on the 27-man roster, with a total of 21 players seeing action in the contest.
After Kentucky rallied with a run in the bottom of the seventh inning to even the game at 4-4, Kent State plated a run in the top of the eighth to take a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning. UK got an RBI single from Luke Maile to score the game-tying run and force the historic extra innings.
The teams then combined to toss shutout innings for the first eight frames in extra innings. Kent State took a 6-5 lead in the top of the 18th inning, before the Wildcats got an RBI double off the cavernous wall in centerfield to even the game in the bottom of the frame to force more extras. Kent State won the game in the 21st, as leadoff hitter Evan Campbell pushed a bunt single in between the mound and second base, scoring on an RBI infield single.
In a wildly quirky game, UK struck out a single-game school record 26 with catcher Michael Williams recording a staggering 28 putouts. UK closer Trevor Gott took his first career at bat in the 11th inning, a freshman UK reliever tossed nine innings in a loss and the Wildcats bullpen tossed a combined 17.1 innings in relief. The Wildcats also had three players suffer injuries in the game, including Maile, Lucas Witt and A.J. Reed - whose attempt at scoring from first base as the walk-off run in the 18th on a double was halted by leg cramps.
The Wildcats saw heroic efforts throughout the game, including the two-way performance of Reed. A native of Terre Haute, Ind., Reed started as the designated hitter, where he played the first nine innings of the game. After UK rallied in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game and force extra-innings and Maile had to be pulled with the injury, Reed moved over to first base, as Gott came on in relief to a career-high four shutout innings with a career-best six strikeouts. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder worked a career-long nine innings, allowing seven hits and two runs, walking two and striking out eight. He went 1-for-9 at the plate, with his single in the 18th helping UK even the game.
"Getting a guy that's been the DH for 12 (innings) and you go and get him and he gets nine innings, that's a special guy," Henderson said.
"I'm pretty tired. My body's just tired," Reed said. "We [ate] a couple hours before the game so it's been a while since you've had stuff in your body and all we really got was protein bars and Gatorade and water, so you're just not getting a lot of the protein and stuff that you need to keep yourself going. You just got to give it all you can, and that's what I did tonight."
UK got a career-high five-hit game from Zac Zellers, who added two walks in his nine plate appearances. Maile went 3-for-4 with two RBI, with Austin Cousino going 2-for-8, Thomas McCarthy adding a 2-for-9 game and Williams charting a 3-for-9 outing, also cranking a double off the wall in leftfield where he was later ruled out on appeal for not touching first base to leadoff the bottom of the 12th.
Matt Reida went 1-for-3 at shortstop with UK reserves Paul McConkey and Steven Hoagland seeing extended action, with Hoagland getting five at bats after collecting three in his first two years. McConkey also came painstakingly close to a big fly in the 18th inning, launching a pair of lasers over the rightfield fence that narrowly missed a homer during the same at bat, with one appearing to hit off the foul pole and another missing the foul pole by a few feet.
"I've never been a part of [this kind of game] myself personally," Williams said. "Definitely unique. You've got to grind, all of it. You just got to stick together as a team and it was definitely a good competitive effort by both teams we just came up short. It's a very emotional game. It's definitely tough, but our team has handled adversity all year and we'll come out ready to fight tomorrow. We'll forget about this game and we'll be fine because we'll be emotionally high again."
UK starter Taylor Rogers worked 3.2 innings, allowing six hits and four runs, walking two and striking out six. Senior Alex Phillips replaced him in the fourth inning, allowing the inherited runner to score and working 3.2 innings, allowing four hits and one run, walking three and striking out a career-high six.
Tim Peterson allowed the game-winning run to score in relief of Phillips, getting the final two outs in the eighth. Got then came in for a career-long outing, surpassing his previous career high of 2.1 innings with four shutout innings, allowing two hits and one walk, striking out a career-best six. Reed (5-3) then came on to toss a gem in the hard-luck loss.
"The things you think about are how proud you are of your bullpen," Henderson said. "That's pretty remarkable really. I'm not as good at math as I used to be, but it would appear 17 and a third of them came out of our bullpen. I probably don't need to elaborate on that. You feel good about your kids."
Kent State (43-17) senior southpaw soft tosser David Starn, the winningest pitcher in program history, worked six innings, allowing eight hits and four runs, walking one and striking out six. Casey Wilson picked up the win in relief of Starn, working 1.2 shutout innings, walking one and allowing one hit. Brian Clark came on to get Kent State out of a jam in the eighth inning, turning in 5.1 innings in relief, with three hits, one run and seven strikeouts. Josh Pierce worked 4.1 innings, allowing two hits and one run, walking four and striking out four. Michael Clark (3-4) got the win, tossing the final 3.2 innings, allowing four hits and striking out four.
UK will return to action in the 4 p.m. ET game on Saturday night, facing off with the loser of the Purdue vs. Valparaiso game at U.S. Steel Yard. The game will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, available in Central Kentucky on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
Rogers started the game with a flawless top half of the first, retiring the side in order, striking out two in the process.
With one out in the bottom of the first, McCarthy singled up the middle off Kent State starter Starn to find his way to first. Starn lost control of an off speed pitch that would plunk Maile in the foot and put runners on first and second for Kentucky. Starn worked his way out of the early jam, striking out one and forcing a ground out to leave the first inning of play in the Gary Regional scoreless.
The Golden Flashes were the first on the board, bringing across one run in the top of the second. George Roberts led off the inning with a single up the middle before advancing to second as T.J. Sutton reached on a hit by pitch. Nick Hamilton followed with a single into left field to load the bases with no outs. Rogers forced a groundball but an infield error enabled Roberts to score from third and leave the bases loaded with no outs. Rogers worked his way out of the jam, using his curveball to strike two hitters out swinging and forcing a lineout to McCarthy at third. Rogers and the Wildcats minimized the damage, allowing just one runner to cross the plate and leave three stranded on base.
Starn retired the first two batters for the Wildcats in the bottom of the second, forcing a fly out to Roberts at first and one to Sutton in right field. Zellers singled through the left side with two outs but was picked off trying to take second. The Wildcats finished two trailing 1-0.
Rogers struck out the Golden Flashes' leadoff hitter in the top of the third for his fifth strikeout of the day but allowed Lyon to reach first on a walk. Lyon advanced to second on a wild pitch and Roberts reached first on a bloop single into rightfield to put runners on first and second with one out for the Golden Flashes. A strikeout of Sutton tallied Rogers' seventh strikeout of the day and a lineout to Zellers in right field ended the inning, leaving two more stranded for Kent State and holding onto a 1-0 lead.
Following a leadoff strikeout, Cousino got the Wildcats started in the bottom of the second, reaching on a hit by pitch. McCarthy recorded his second single of the day with a base hit through the left side of the infield. With Cousino and McCarthy both running, Maile singled into rightfield, scoring Cousino and moving McCarthy to third with one out. Reed grounded out to second, allowing McCarthy to score from second and give the Wildcats their first lead of the day at 2-1.
Sawyer Polen led off the top of the fourth with a single into left center. Kent State executed some small ball, laying down a sacrifice bunt to move Polen into scoring position at second and a drag bunt up the first baseline from Derek Toadvine put runners on first and third with one out for the Golden Flashes. Rogers walked Campbell to load the bases and a flinch on the mound from Rogers brought Polen home on a called balk. Runners on second and third, Jimmy Rider singled into left field to score Toadvine and leave runners on first and third with one out. Rogers forced a lineout to Reida at short to record the second out of the inning before handing the ball over to Phillips with two outs and runners on first and third. As the first batter to face Phillips, Roberts knocked an RBI double down the left field line to score Campbell and leave runners on second and third with two outs. Phillips walked Sutton to load the bases but left the three baserunners stranded after Kent State reclaimed the lead at 4-2.
Starn retired the first two batters in the bottom of the fourth before surrender a free pass to Zellers. Reida drilled a line drive over the shortstop for a two-out single but the two baserunners were left stranded as Starn struck out the final out of the inning.
Following a leadoff walk, Phillips breezed through the Kent State lineup in the top of the fifth, striking out two and forcing a lineout to Maile at first.
The Wildcats got one back in the bottom of the fifth, started by a single into left field from Maile. With two outs and Maile on first, Williams doubled into right center to give Kentucky two runners in scoring position. With Riddle up, Starn lost control of a pitch and Williams was able to come across on a wild pitch to cut Kent State's lead to one run at 4-3 through five.
Phillips retired the first two batters in the top of the sixth and was able to avoid any damage from a two-out double, forcing a fly out to Cousino in center to end the inning.
Starn retired the side in the bottom of the sixth, striking out two and forcing an infield fly out.
After striking out the first two batters of the top of the seventh, Phillips surrendered a two-out triple over Zellers in rightfield from Alex Miklos. Phillips left the Miklos stranded on third by forcing a fly out into right field to end the inning and keep the game at 4-3 going into the bottom half of the seventh.
Kentucky tied the game in the bottom of the seventh, sparked by Cousino's triple down the right field line. Following Cousino's triple, Kent State made a call to the bullpen to righty Wilson. McCarthy stepped up for the Wildcats, grounding out to shortstop but knocking Cousino home in the process to tie the game at four. Wilson retired the remaining two outs in order for Kent State as the game headed into the top of the eighth in a tie at 4-4.
Phillips struck out the leadoff man in the top of the eighth, marking a career high for Phillips with six strikeouts. Rider singled into right center with one out and Phillips walked David Lyon to end his day with runners on first and second and one out. Peterson took the mound for Kentucky to face a 4-for-4 Roberts. Roberts stayed hot and delivered an RBI single into right center, giving the Golden Flashes a 5-4 lead in the top of the eighth. With runners on first and third and one out, Peterson got out of the jam with an unconventional 3-2-5 double play. Maile catching Lyon trying to take home kept the Kent State lead at 5-4 heading into the bottom of the eighth.
Trailing by one run, Williams led off the Wildcats with a single into centerfield. Riddle laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Williams into scoring position. Witt's groundout to second moved Williams to third with two outs. A walk of Zellers would end Wilson's night as lefty Clark took the mound with runners on first and third and two outs. With a lefty on the mound, Henderson called to righty Thomas Bernal to pinch hit, his first at bat since he delivered an RBI single on May 19th at Mississippi State. Clark did his job and recorded a strike out to end Kentucky's threat and take the game into the ninth with Kent State holding onto a 5-4 lead.
Gott entered the game for Kentucky in the top of the ninth, striking out the side to take Kentucky into the bottom of the ninth trailing by one run.
In its last opportunity, Kentucky scored one in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game and send it to extra innings. Cousino led off for Kentucky with a single to the right side and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from McCarthy. Like many times this year, Maile came up clutch for the Wildcats, singling up the middle to knock Cousino in from second and tie the game at five. Adams came on to pinch run for a visibly hobbled Maile but Clark retired the final two outs and left Adams stranded on first.
Gott shut down the Golden Flashes in the top of the 10th, striking out the leadoff batter and forcing a fly out and line out.
The Wildcats threatened in the bottom half of the 10th but weren't able to bring the winning run across. Witt reached on a throwing error from the shortstop with one out and advanced to third on a single from Zellers into left field. Zellers moved to second on the throw attempting to nab Witt, putting runners on second and third with one out and Hoagland coming to the plate. Kentucky attempted a squeeze bunt to bring across the winning run but Hoagland's bunt was fielded by the pitcher who caught Witt attempting to take home. Kentucky still had a shot with runners on first and third but Clark struck out the final out of the inning to take the game into 11.
Gott came back out for Kentucky in the top of the 11th and retired the first two batters in order, striking out the leadoff and forcing Roberts to ground out to second for the second out of the inning. Sutton singled up the middle with two outs and pinch runner Troy Summers came onto first. Attempting to take second, Williams gunned Summers at second for the third out of the inning.
Gott took the mound in the top of the 12th for his fourth inning. After retiring the first two batters in order, Gott let Miklos reach on balls. A bunt single from Toadvine put runners on first and second but Gott forced Campbell to fly out to Zellers in right center.
Williams led off the Wildcats in the bottom of the 12th with a line-drive double off the leftfield wall but Kent State appealed to first and the first base umpire ruled that Williams had missed first base, becoming the first out of the inning. Riddle lined out to second and Witt grounded out to third to end the inning.
"I'll be honest, I thought I touched first base and he called me out and I was kind of frustrated and I shouldn't have been," Williams said. "I apologize."
After Gott threw a career-high four innings, Reed took the mound for Kentucky in the top of the 13th, getting a quick three outs of what would eventually be a 27-out appearance.
Clark struck the first two Kentucky batters out in the bottom of the 13th before letting Cousino reach on a hit by pitch. Clark didn't let the hit by pitch do any damage, forcing a fly out to end the 13th inning.
Hamilton led off the top of the 14th for Kent State with a single up the middle. Polen laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved Hamilton to second and a ground out to Riddle at shortstop moved Hamilton to third with two outs. With a runner on third and two outs, Reed fought and struck out Toadvine to end the top of the 14th.
McConkey led off Kentucky in the top of the 14th and reached base safely on a walk. McConkey reaching base to lead off for Kentucky wouldn't bring a run across as Pierce retired the next three batters in order.
Reed struck out the leadoff batter in the top of the 15th before allowing an infield single to the left side. Reed forced Lyon to ground the ball to Hoagland who tagged second and threw out Lyon for a double play to end the inning.
The Wildcats threatened again in the bottom of the 15th, sparked by a one-out double down the rightfield line from Zellers. Following a strikeout, Pierce intentionally walked Cousino and let McCarthy reach on balls to load the bases with two outs. With the count going full, McConkey flied out to third to end Kentucky's threat in the bottom of the 15th and keep the game going.
Reed retired the side in the top of the 16th, forcing a ground out, strikeout and pop up to take the game into the bottom of the 16th still in a tie.
Pierce matched Reed's quick inning, retiring the side in order, forcing two fly outs and a ground out to complete a quick 16th inning.
Reed came back out in the top of the 17th, and sat the Golden Flashes down in order for a second consecutive inning.
With one out in the bottom of the 17th, Pierce plunked Zellers to give the Wildcats a runner on first. A failed bunt attempted left Zellers out at second and Hoagland on first with the fielder's choice. Hoagland stole second to give Kentucky a runner in scoring position with two outs but Pierce forced a ground out to second to end the inning.
Kent State worked to take a 6-5 lead in the top of the 18th. Campbell led off the top half of the 18th with a single through the right side before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt from Rider. Lyon worked the count full and reached on balls to put runners on first and second. A deep fly out to right center allowed Campbell to tag from second and reach third. Koch hit a groundball deep in the six hole that Riddle fielded but wasn't able to throw to first in time, allowing Campbell to score and give the Golden Flashes a 6-5 lead.
The Wildcats weren't ready to give in, following a fly out to center, McConkey worked the count full - narrowly missing homers foul down the rightfield line - to draw a walk. Reed singled into right, moving the tying run to third and forcing Kent State to bring Clark in from the bullpen with one out. Williams drilled a ball off the centerfield wall, scoring McConkey easily. Reed held momentarily between first and second to make sure the ball couldn't be caught in the thick, cold Indiana air, before being sent around third base. Reed wasn't able to score from first as the relay beat him to the plate, pulling up with calf cramps between third base and the plate at the plate.
"You start to do things when you're playing a game like this," Henderson said about Reed getting thrown out as the walk-off run in the bottom of the 18th inning. "You start to push things a little bit. You steal, you wave A.J. from first, you're going to safety [squeeze] even though they come in and you make gambles. That's all there is to it. You start gambling."
"A.J. busted his butt for me," Williams said. "He got thrown out and that's part of it."
With one out in the bottom of the 19th, Zellers doubled into deep left center. Clark avoided any damage, striking out one and forcing a ground out to end Zellers' threat.
Reed retired the first two batters in the top of the 20th before walking Lyon in a full count. Reed didn't let the walk cause any damage, striking out the final out of the inning.
Kentucky threatened with bases loaded in the bottom of the 20th but wasn't able to bring the winning run across. McConkey reached on an infield single to the right side. Reed walked and Williams was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Clark managed to work his way out of the jam, forcing a 1-2-3, inning-ending double play on a comebacker from J.T. Riddle.
Kent State used bunts to recapture the lead in the top of the 21st. Koch led off with a base hit bunt on the right side on a hard-hit ball that sailed all the way to the second base bag before being fielded. He was then moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt from Hamilton. Following a strikeout, Miklos stepped up for Kent State, knocking an RBI triple into to deep center to give the Golden Flashes the lead. Reed forced a fly out to end the inning but Kent State took a 7-6 lead going into the bottom half of the inning.
Kentucky threatened in the bottom of the 21st but wasn't able to bring the tying run home. Zellers singled to right field with one out and pinch hitter Boehm was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with one out. A soft groundout to second moved runners to second and third but the runners were left stranded after Clark recorded a strikeout to end the game.
GAME NOTES: Sophomore Lucas Witt made his first back-to-back starts since March 31 at No. 18 Georgia ... Luke Maile was hit by his 11th pitch of the year ... Austin Cousino was hit by his 11th pitch of the year ... Taylor Rogers was called for his second balk of the year ... Rogers was limited to the shortest start of his 2012 season ... Michael Williams doubled for the ninth time in 2012 ... Cousino recorded his second triple ... Alex Phillips set a new career high in strikeouts and pitches ... Zac Zellers recorded a career-high five hits ... A.J. Reed tossed a new career-high, striking out a career-best ... Trevor Gott set new career highs in innings and strikeouts ... Max Kuhn played for UK for the first time since March 9 ... Steven Hoagland recorded five at bats, after getting three at bats in his first two years at UK ... Williams doubled for the 10th time and Zellers for the 11th ... Cousino was hit by his 12th pitch ... Zellers was hit by his 21st pitch of the year, leading the SEC and ranking second in UK single-season history ... Thomas McCarthy laid down his fifth sacrifice bunt of the year and J.T. Riddle his seventh ... Williams set a new school record with 28 putouts ... UK's 21 inning game is the longest in SEC history and the longest in program history, ranking second-longest in NCAA Tournament history ... Hoagland stole his first career base ... UK is now 10-13 in NCAA Tournament history and have only won the opening game of the tournament regional round once, coming in 1988.