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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The 22nd-ranked Kentucky baseball team used a three-run first-inning homer from sophomore Cory Farris, a two-run shot from senior Marcus Nidiffer and sophomore Chad Wright went 4-for-4 at the plate, helping UK claim a 9-3 win and series sweep over IPFW, Sunday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Wright, a native of Paducah, Ky., was a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with a sacrifice bunt to lead the Wildcats offensively, while Farris and Nidiffer each launched homers. Nidiffer, a fifth-year senior, finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and Farris batted 1-for-2 with three RBI and a pair of walks. Farris’ three-run homer was his third of the season and Nidiffer’s roundtripper was his second of the season and his second on the weekend.
Kentucky (13-2) starter Alex Meyer (3-2) went five innings for the Wildcats, giving up one run on four hits while striking out four and walking four. The native of Greensburg, Ind., lasted five or more innings for the third time this season, picking up wins in all three outings. The sophomore has struck out a team-high 26 batters this season in 21 innings of work. Meyer, a 6-foot-9, 220-pounder, was replaced on the mound by fellow sophomore Sean Bouthilette who lasted 1.2 innings with two hits, two runs – one earned – one walk and one strikeout. Bouthilette, a native of Elizabethtown, Ky., was relived from his second appearance of the season by junior Matt Little. The reigning National Player of the Week, Little went the final 1.2 innings, allowing one hit and striking out four. The native of Virginia Beach, Va., recorded his team-high fourth save of the season and has struck out 21 batters in just over 15 innings of work, allowing only five hits and a .109 opposing batting average.
UK also got hits from Andy Burns, Braden Kapteyn, Keenan Wiley and Taylor Black. Burns, a native of Fort Collins, Colo., extended his hitting streak to a career-best 11 games, while Wiley, a native of Richmond, Ky., pushed his hitting streak to nine games and Kapteyn extended his streak to eight consecutive contests.
IPFW (1-12) starter Lucas Kesterson (0-2) was pulled from the mound following the fifth inning after allowing six hits, four earned runs and three walks, striking out three UK batters. Nick Optiz followed Kesterson, giving up five hits and five runs to the Wildcats, four of which were earned.
Kentucky will return to action Monday, hosting Murray State at 4 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be heard live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action.
UK got on the board at its first opportunity, plating three runs on two hits and a hit batter in the bottom of the first inning. Wright led off with a single through the right side of the infield and he stole second for his fifth steal of the year. After Burns struck out looking at a wide strike, Kapteyn got hit by his seventh pitch of the year. That brought Farris to the dish, who turned on a 2-1 offering from Kesterson, belting it high down the right-field line, a no-doubt homer, Farris’ third of the year.
IPFW got a run back in the top of the second, as A.J. Christensen hit his second homer of the year, a high shot over the video board in left-centerfield.
Kentucky answered with a run in the bottom of the third, as Burns reached on a one-out single and Kapteyn and Farris drew walks to load the bases for Glad. Glad hung a sacrifice fly into short leftfield, scoring Burns and making it 4-1 UK.
The Mastodons cut the lead to 4-2 with a single run in the top of the sixth, as Shaun VanDriessche reached on a one-out single. The next hitter, Will Faulkner hit a crisp grounder at Burns at third base but with VanDriessche running from first base and distracting the defense, Burns bobbled the ball, allowing Faulkner to reach on an error. After a fly out hit into the gap, VanDriesshe moved to third base, scoring on a wild pitch from Bouthilette.
IPFW cut the UK lead to 4-3 with a run in the top of the seventh, chasing Bouthilette from the game. Kurt Dudley got hit by a one-out pitch, moving to third on Brett Clark’s double into rightfield. Cory Miller scored Dudley with an RBI groundout to Black at shortstop.
UK answered with a run in the bottom of the seventh, as Black got hit by a pitch to lead off the frame, moving to second on Wright’s sacrifice bunt. After an out, Kapteyn lined a double down the left-field line, scoring Black.
The Wildcats added four runs on four hits and an IPFW error in the bottom of the eighth inning. Wiley led off by keeping his hit streak alive with a single up the middle and Nidiffer scored him with his second homer of the year, a two-run shot drilled down the left-field line. Lance Ray then followed and hit a high fly ball to the centerfielder, who dropped the ball for a two-base error. Black then scored him with a single into left-centerfield.