Chris Wade Hits Game-Winning Homer in 11th at New Orleans
March 18, 2009
NEW ORLEANS -- Sophomore shortstop Chris Wade belted a one-out, game-winning home run in the top of the 11th inning, giving Kentucky a dramatic, come-from-behind 5-4 win at New Orleans, on a beautiful Tuesday evening at Maestri Field.
Wade’s third homer of the year came in clutch fashion, as UK trailed throughout the game and got single runs in the top of the eighth and ninth to force extra innings. The 2008 freshman All-America shortstop got a 2-0 offering and ripped it over the left-field fence, giving Kentucky its only lead of the game.
Kentucky (13-4) faced a 4-3 deficit in the top of the ninth inning, and down to its last strike and its last out, UK scored the game-tying run on a two-out wild pitch off New Orleans closer Donnie White. Sophomore second baseman Chris Bisson got the ninth-inning rally started to lead off, ripping a single to the opposite field, and plating from third on the misfire from White.
After UK starter Mike Kaczmarek got chased from the game before recording an out in the second inning, the Wildcats got solid pitching performances from their bullpen, using Tyler Henry, Clint Tilford, Logan Darnell and Sean Bouthilette. Darnell and Bouthilette shined the most, with Bouthilette picking up his second career victory, tossing the final 1.1 innings without allowing a base runner and striking out two. Bouthilette, a freshman from Elizabethtown, Ky., performed well with the game on the line, striking out the first two hitters he faced in the bottom of the 11th. Darnell turned it a career performance as well, hurling 3.2 scoreless innings while UK was trailing, keeping Kentucky in the contest. Henry worked 3.2 innings, allowing five hits, while striking out five, but left the game without allowing a run, before Tilford allowed the inherited runners to score.
Outfielder Troy Frazier turned in a breakout performance at the dish, batting 4-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI. Catcher Marcus Nidiffer, who started the game with the day off and freshman Michael Williams behind the plate, came off the bench to bat 3-for-4 with two RBI.
UK’s win improves its non-conference record over the last two seasons to 40-3. The Wildcats entered the game with the 10th-best RPI in the nation, according to Boydsworld.com.
The Wildcats return to action with its first Southeastern Conference home series of the year, facing conference power Vanderbilt, in a three-game set, beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game can be heard live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action.
UNO, a traditional Sun Belt Conference power and back-to-back NCAA Regional team, was led at the dish by Jerad Comarda’s 4-for-5 game. Reliever Matt Brown, the final of eight pitchers used in the game, suffered the loss, allowing Wade’s decisive homer.
Kentucky mounted a one-run rally to force the bottom of the ninth inning, evening the game at 4-4. Bisson led off with a hard-hit single into left field, advancing to second on Wade’s perfect sacrifice bunt. With the game-tying run on second, Keenan Wiley delivered what looked like a single down the left-field line but UNO’s left fielder, the highly-athletic Rodarrick Jones, made a long run and a spectacular diving catch, robbing UK of the go-ahead run and the base hit. Braden Kapteyn followed, and down to his last strike, Kapteyn ripped a single up the middle, but it hit White’s leg and bounced back towards the plate, leaving Kapteyn with only an infield hit and the game-tying run at third. With Chad Wright facing a 0-1 count, White sailed a pitch past the catcher for a wild pitch, the first ball White threw in his first 13 pitches, allowing Bisson to scamper home for the game-tying run.
Wade and Bisson’s heroics were set up by an eighth-inning rally, which began when Frazier ripped a one-out double into the gap, his second two-bagger of the contest. Nidiffer, a native of Bristol, Tenn., scored Frazier with a single up the middle, putting the Wildcats in striking distance.
New Orleans (5-12) got on the board first in the bottom of the first inning, as Kaczmarek allowed a lead-off hit to Ryan Eden. After Justin Edwards bounced into a fielder’s choice, with Eden out on the play, Nick Schwaner popped up to the shortstop. Clean-up hitter Jerad Comarda followed with a home run to left field – his team-best fifth of the year – making it 2-0 UNO.
Kentucky responded with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth, evening the game at 2-2. Freshman Cory Farris worked a one-out walk, advancing to second on a wild pitch. Frazier, a Louisville, Ky., native, scored Farris with a hard-hit line drive into the left-center field gap, his third double of the season. With Frazier on second, Nidiffer battled in a 2-2 count, belting an RBI single into right field, scoring Frazier and evening the game.
UNO took a two-run lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, chasing Henry from the game and roughing up Tilford. After Henry got the first two hitters, Comarda bounced a single off the plate, skipping high and into center field. Nick Mitchell followed and did the same thing, bouncing a ball into the plate and high over a leaping Andy Burns at third base. UK called on Tilford, who proceeded to immediately walk Jones to load the bags. Tilford allowed the go-ahead runs, with Craig Schnell notching his first career RBI, a single through the left side, making it 4-2 Privateers.