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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Evansville rallied with five runs in the top of the sixth inning to erase a one-run Kentucky lead and hand the 22nd-ranked Wildcats their first home loss of the season, 8-4, on a splendid Wednesday evening at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
With UK holding a 4-3 lead, Evansville jumped on UK sophomore right-hander Alex Meyer in his second inning of relief, his first relief appearance in over a year. Evansville plated five runs in the top of the sixth inning and held on for the win.
Kentucky (10-2) suffered its first home loss of the season and now owns a 5-1 record at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Freshman Sam Kidd made his first career starting assignment on the mound and tossed four innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out three. Meyer, a 6-foot-9, 220-pounder, came on and tossed a perfect fifth inning, before running into trouble in the sixth inning. Meyer (2-2) suffered his second loss in his last two appearances allowing five runs on two hits in one official inning of work. UK also used right-hander Braden Kapteyn, who tossed two shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out two. Matt Little, announced as a National Player of the Week Monday, finished off the game for UK throwing a shutout eighth and ninth inning.
Evansville (4-9) right-hander Matt Netherton (1-1) notched the win, tossing three innings and allowing only two hits and no runs. Tom Heithoff came in and tossed the final three innings, picking up his second save of the season.
UK was led offensively by Cory Farris, who went 3-for-3 with his first homer of the year and his second double of the season. Chad Wright added a 2-for-5 game with an RBI, while Neiko Johnson stole a career-high three bases, adding two runs. Centerfielder Keenan Wiley went 1-for-4, extending his hitting streak to five games.
Kentucky returns to action Friday with a three-game set, hosting IPFW 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.
The Wildcats jumped on the board in the top of the first inning, plating one run on three walks. After Wright struck out to lead off, Johnson worked a 3-1 walk and stole second base. Burns then drew his team-best eighth walk of the season, with both Johnson and Burns stealing their respective bases on a double steal. With Kapteyn up, UE starter Seth McCabe committed a balk, allowing Johnson to score. After a Glad walk, Wiley bounced out to the second baseman to end the UK threat.
UK added a run in the top of the second, taking a 2-0 lead. After freshman catcher Luke Maile struck out on a 3-2 count to lead off, Farris got plunked by the first pitch of his at bat. After moving into scoring position on a wild pitch, thrown during Taylor Black’s at bat, Wright ripped a single up the middle for his team-best seventh two-out RBI of the season.
Evansville took a 3-2 lead with three runs in the top of the third inning. Nate Smith reached on a one-out walk, moving to third after Alex Acheson hit into an error. Eric Stamets then doubled into left-centerfield, scoring two and Heithoff singled up the middle to score a third run in the frame.
Kentucky evened up the game with a run in the bottom of the third, as Johnson got hit by a pitch and stole second for his third steal of the game, with the throw to second sailing into leftfield, allowing Johnson to move to third. Kapteyn scored Johnson with a single ripped deep into the hole on the left side of the infield.
UK regained the lead with a run in the bottom of the fourth, as sophomore rightfielder Farris led off with a first-pitch jack over the right-centerfield fence, a no-doubt roundtripper into the party deck in the outfield parking lot.
The Purple Aces took the lead in the sixth, hitting Meyer for five runs and an 8-4 lead. Meyer started the inning off with a pair of walks and a hit batter to load the bases for Greg Wallace, who cleared the bags with a triple painted down the right-field line. Trentt Copeland followed and ripped a two-run homer over the left-field fence, making it 8-4.