BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- The 26th-ranked Western Kentucky Hilltoppers plated 16 runs on 13 hits in the second inning alone, with the first 16 hitters in the inning reaching base safely before Kentucky recorded an out, as the Hilltoppers posted a dominating 24-8 win over the Wildcats, in front of a record 6,183 fans at Bowling Green Ballpark.
A crowd of 6,183 fans attended the game, setting a new record in the state of Kentucky for fans attending a college baseball game. The number eclipsed the UK school record of 4,009 fans for a rivalry game with UK and Louisville in 2007 and the previous record of 4,605 fans attending an NCAA Regional at Louisville in 2007. UK and WKU set the WKU school record in 2008, when 3,057 fans attended the game on the Western Kentucky campus. The Tuesday night contest was held at the low class A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, the Bowling Green Hot Rods.
Western Kentucky (28-12) jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the bottom of the first inning before the second frame. The Hilltoppers sent the first 16 hitters in the second inning to base safely before UK retired an out, with UK going through three pitchers in the inning. WKU totaled six extra-base hits in the inning, including three homers, with WKU batting around the order three times in the frame.
The inning came just shy of the most runs scored in an inning in the history of college baseball, set in 1984 when Wichita State scored 21 runs in the sixth inning against Friends and when Penn scored 21 runs in the sixth inning against Frank and Marsh in 1983. Delaware holds the NCAA record for the most runs scored in the second inning all-time in the history of college baseball, plating 20 runs in the second frame against Maryland-East Shore in 1993.
The Hilltoppers continued to add to its lead with four runs in the bottom of the third inning, stretching the WKU lead to 22-1. WKU sent nine hitters to the plate again in the third inning, sending the first five hitters to the dish before the Wildcats recorded an out.
UK junior slugger Lance Ray was the bright spot offensively for UK, going 3-for-4 with a walk. Ray hit his third homer of the year in the eighth inning, a two-run job. Over the last two games – both starts for Ray – he has reached base safely in seven of eight plate appearances. UK also got two hits from shortstop Taylor Black, while Andy Burns added his seventh and eighth double of the season. Freshman catcher Luke Maile notched a single off the bench, gathering his third career hit and his first hit that wasn’t a home run. Sophomore leftfielder Chad Wright extended his hitting streak to a season-best 10 games with a single in the first inning.
UK starter Joe Devine made his first career start and lasted one inning, allowing five hits and six runs, walking two and striking out one. Kyle Jackson relieved him and allowed three hits and three runs without recording an out. Sean Bouthilette relieved Jackson and allowed seven hits and nine runs in his inning of work walking one. Freshman Sam Kidd then relieved Bouthilette, going two innings, allowing four hits and four runs, with all four runs coming in his first inning of action. Mike Kaczmarek relieved Kidd and tossed a scoreless inning, allowing one two-out double. UK sophomore Chase Greene relieved Kaczmarek and hurled two shutout innings, not allowing any hits, issuing one walk and striking out one. Sophomore Braden Kapteyn replaced Greene in the bottom of the eighth to finish the pitching for Kentucky. Kapteyn allowed one hits and two earned runs while walking two and striking out one.
The win for WKU gives the Hilltoppers the sweep in the series, as WKU beat UK 6-3 in the first meeting in Lexington. The two-game series sweep for WKU marks the first over UK since the 2003 season.
The 16-run loss is the worst for the Wildcats since falling 19-0 at Florida in the final weekend of the 2003 season.
Kentucky (22-15) returns to action Friday, traveling to No. 29 Auburn for a three-game series. The games will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the games live on WLAP 630-AM and in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM.