LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Freshman southpaw Taylor Rogers struck out a career-high eight in seven shutout innings and outfielders Cory Farris and Chad Wright each contributed three RBI, as the No. 22 Kentucky Wildcats posted a series-clinching 11-2 win over IPFW, on Saturday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Rogers, a 6-foot-3, 170-pound freshman, tossed seven shutout innings in his fourth career start, allowing only four hits and striking out a career-best eight, issuing just two walks. A Littleton, Colo., native, Rogers tossed first-pitch strikes to 19-of-26 hitters faced, throwing 96 total pitches in the game, with 65 going for strikes. In his four starts this season, Rogers (3-0) owns a 4.30 ERA in 23 innings.
Offensively, Farris and Wright each gathered three RBI, with Wright leading the team with a 3-for-5 game, adding his fourth steal of the year. Farris, a native of Florence, Ky., launched his second homer of the season, finishing 2-for-4 with three-RBI and a walk. Sophomore Braden Kapteyn added a 2-for-3 game with and RBI, while shortstop Taylor Black added his second career multi-hit game, going 2-for-3. Third baseman Andy Burns went 1-for-5 with two-RBI, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games, while Keenan Wiley went 1-for-4 to extend his streak to eight games. Neiko Johnson, who stole a career-high four bases last night, added two more steals, upping his season total to a league-leading 15-for-15 on the year.
Junior right-hander Kyle Jackson finished off the game, allowing two runs in two innings with one strikeout and four hits allowed. IPFW (1-11) starter Ryan August took the loss, going three innings, allowing five hits and one run, striking out two.
Kentucky (12-2) improved to 7-1 on the season at home and clinched its second series win of the year, including a series sweep against Bowling Green, the two-time Mid-American Conference champions. UK has lost only twice this season, at San Diego State and against Evansville Wednesday night in a midweek matchup.
The series will conclude Sunday, with the two teams facing off for a 1 p.m. ET first pitch at Cliff Hagan Stadium. UK will send sophomore right-hander Alex Meyer (2-2, 9.00 ERA) to the mound to face off with junior right-hander Lucas Kesterson (0-1, 5.68 ERA). Fans can hear the game live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. In Lexington, fans can hear the game on WGVN 1580-AM and online at UKatheltics.com.
UK got on the board in the bottom of the first inning, as Johnson led off getting hit by a two-strike pitch and promptly stole second base to move into scoring position and chart his 14th steal of the year. After a single up the middle from Wright, Johnson moved to third base, scoring on Burns’ sacrifice fly to leftfield.
The Wildcats opened up the game with four runs on four hits in the bottom of the fourth inning, taking a 5-0 lead. Black led off with a single and stole second base, scoring on Wright’s single into the right-centerfield gap. After Wright stole second, Kapteyn scored him with a single laced into leftfield, bringing Farris to the dish. Farris ripped a line-drive homer over the McDonald’s sign in right-centerfield, a laser shot for his second homer of the year, scoring Kapteyn.
UK continued to stretch its lead in the bottom of the seventh, adding six runs and making it 11-0 UK. Marcus Nidiffer and Black got hit by pitches and Johnson drew a walk to load the bases. Wright followed and lined a single into leftfield, scoring Nidiffer and Black. With Burns at the plate, Johnson stole third base and came around to score after the IPFW catcher misfired on his throw to third. Burns then singled into leftfield, scoring Wright and extending his hitting streak to 10 games. After Kapteyn got hit by a pitch, Farris drove in one run with an RBI groundout and pinch hitter Brian Adams, also a football wide receiver, singled into leftfield for his first career RBI.
IPFW got a run in the top of the ninth off Jackson, as pinch hitter Ryan Beer led off with a single and Austin Bower doubled to score Beer. After Bower moved to third base, Kurt Dudley scored him with an RBI groundout.