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HOUSTON -- Behind stellar pitching performances from sophomore right-handed starter Jordan Cooper and freshman reliever Trevor Gott, the Kentucky baseball team posted a dramatic 2-1 win on Sunday afternoon over the red-hot Utah Utes, on the final day of the 2011 Houston College Classic, hosted by the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Kentucky (5-6) was locked in a pitching duel throughout the game, as the Cooper-led Wildcats and the Utes battled in a 1-1 game heading to the top of the eighth. UK struck for the go-ahead run in the eighth, as Braden Kapteyn hammered a triple into the right-centerfield gap with one out. After Utah got a pop out for the second out, UK junior catcher Michael Williams delivered the biggest hit of his career, ripping a single through the left side of the infield to score Kapteyn as the game-winning run.
With a one-run lead heading to the bottom of the eighth, UK turned to Gott, a freshman right-hander out of Lexington's Tates Creek High School. Gott was dominating, pitching the final two innings and allowing only one infield hit, striking out four without issuing a walk. Gott picked up his first career save at Cooper (1-0) earned his first win of the year. Cooper went seven innings, allowing just three hits and one run, walking three and striking out a career-best nine. The Shelbyville, Tenn., native, allowed just the one run, coming in the first inning, as Utah put together back-to-back hits to open the game, with Utah star slugger C.J. Cron delivering the lone RBI with a sacrifice fly.
Kapteyn led UK at the plate with a stellar day, scoring both of UK's runs and batting 2-for-2 with a triple. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound two-way player also drew two walks in the game. UK also got two hits from sophomore centerfielder Brian Adams, who had two infield singles and an RBI, with one infield hit coming on a routine grounder hit to the third baseman, with the extremely fast Adams beating the throw at first base. Williams delivered the big hit in the eighth, going 1-for-4 with an RBI.
UK junior third baseman Thomas McCarthy snapped his hitting streak at 10 games, despite reaching base safely in four of five plate appearances, with a career-high three walks.
Utah (2-6) entered the game with UK 2-0 on the weekend, with impressive upset wins over Baylor and Texas A&M. Reliever Josh Chapman (0-1) took the loss, allowing the decisive run in 3.1 innings of work.
UK will return to action on Tuesday, hosting Eastern Kentucky for a 4 p.m. ET matchup at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Utah got on the board in the bottom of the first inning, as James Brooks led off the game with a single off the cleats of Cooper, stealing second base and moving to third on a single from Michael Beltran. Cron scored Brooks with a sacrifice fly down the left-field line.
The Wildcats evened up the game in the fourth inning as Kapteyn led off the frame with a wild pitch, taking second on a wild pitch. After a groundout moved Kapteyn to third with two outs, Adams came to the plate. Adams ripped a hard ball right at the third baseman, but he couldn't get the highly speedy Adams at first base, allowing Kapteyn to score.
POSTGAME INTERVIEWS FROM THE AIRPORT
Sophomore Jordan Cooper
Freshman Trevor Gott