BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana plated eight runs in the bottom of the eighth and ninth innings to tie the game and force extra innings and after Kentucky scored one run in the top of the 10th inning to take a one-run lead into the bottom of the 10th, the Hoosiers got a walk-off, two-out, two-run double from Michael Earley, winning a wild 18-17 game on Tuesday afternoon at Sembower Field.
In a game that saw both teams combine for a total of 35 runs scored, 41 hits and 25 runners left on base, Indiana escaped with a wild walk-off win. UK opened up the game with 14 runs scored in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings, taking a 16-8 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning. IU mounted a rally, plating five runs in the bottom of the eighth, then got three runs in the bottom of the ninth off closer Matt Little to force extra innings. UK responded after losing the lead in the bottom of the ninth with a go-ahead run, taking a 17-16 lead into the bottom of the 10th inning. With UK using a total of six pitchers entering the bottom of the 10th, UK turned to junior college transfer Kyle Jackson, for his first outing since allowing three runs on three hits without getting an out in a loss at No. 26 Western Kentucky on April 20.
Jackson allowed a lead-off infield single to start the bottom of the 10th inning, with catcher Dylan Swift beating the jump-throw from shortstop Taylor Black, who fielded the ball deep in the hole on the left side of the infield. Jackson got a big swinging strikeout from leadoff hitter Micah Johnson and induced a hit-and-run groundout from No. 2 hitter Jerrud Sabourin to get the second out of the inning with the game-tying run on second base. UK wisely walked slugger Alex Dickerson, who hit his Big Ten-leading 21st home run of the season in the bottom of the ninth to cut the UK lead to one, setting up the force around the infield and brining Earley to the plate, who entered the at bat 0-for-6. Earley got a first-pitch in the middle of the zone, belting it into the gap and off the left-centerfield wall, scoring Swift from second and the hustling Dickerson from first base, just beating the throw from Chad Wright in leftfield.
Junior first baseman Lance Ray posted a career-high two home runs – one of which was part of three consecutive homers UK launched in the seventh inning – five RBI and three runs scored, drawing two walks. The junior from Las Vegas, Nev., was Kentucky’s sparkplug all game getting on base six times behind his seventh and eighth homers of the year and his 10th double and first triple of the season. Ray started what would be back-to-back-to-back homers with sophomore Braden Kapteyn and senior Marcus Nidiffer following with solo shots. Ray has now hit safely in 11 of his last 13 games, seven of which were multi-hit games. Nidiffer was also brilliant at the plate, launching a homer and a career-high five hits with three RBI and four runs scored.
Ray was not the only Wildcat to have a good day at the plate as Kentucky posted a total of 17 runs and 18 hits, both season highs. Six of the eight Wildcat position players recorded a hit in the game with Ray, Nidiffer, Kapteyn, senior Keenan Wiley and junior Neiko Johnson posting multi-hit games.
Kentucky (26-22) started junior Joe Devine on the rubber, going three innings and allowing five runs, two earned, on seven hits while striking out one. The outing for Devine was his longest of the season. Freshman Walter Wijas replaced Devine on the mound to throw two innings only giving up three runs, two earned, to IU while striking out two. Kapteyn pitched 1.2 scoreless innings for Kentucky, allowing only two hits. Kapteyn gave way to junior Mike Kaczmarek in the bottom of the seventh inning with the bases loaded and two outs with Kaczmarek getting a groundout to end the IU rally. Kaczmarek would get the first two outs in the eighth inning before allowing four runs and giving way to junior Nick Kennedy. Kennedy gave up a two-run homer to start his outing to cut the UK lead to 16-13. Little came in to start the ninth inning, giving up the lead on two homers and Jackson (1-1) picked up the loss, allowing the winning runs in the 10th inning. IU closer Chris Squires (5-1) picked up the win. Swift, a catcher with only four appearances on the mound this season, turned in the best outing out of the bullpen for IU, going 2.1 shutout innings to keep IU in the game.
Kentucky will return to action Wednesday against Lipscomb at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action.
UK got on the board to start the game, getting two runs on a hit in the top of the first. The inning started with a walk to Chris Bisson, who later advanced to second on a Wright sacrifice bunt. After Gunner Glad walked, Ray doubled on a high fly to center that sailed in the wind and went over the head of the centerfielder, scoring Bisson. Kapteyn then walked, loading the bases for Nidiffer, who grounded out softly to the right side easily scoring Glad for a 2-0 UK lead. Wiley lined out to leftfield to end the rally.
Indiana (24-22) took the lead in the game, plating three unearned runs on three hits. The inning started with Earley reaching on the error by Devine. Earley sent a swinging bunt to the right side that Devine had trouble fielding, allowing Earley to reach first safely. Josh Lyon then struck out looking but with Tyler Rogers batting, Earley advanced to second on a wild pitch. Rogers then grounded out to short to advance Earley to third with two outs. IU would then start the scoring when Brian Ritz singled through the right side, scoring Earley and then Ethan Wilson doubled into right-centerfield, scoring Ritz from first to tie the game at 2-2. The Hoosiers’ third run came when Wes Wilson singled back up the box, scoring Ethan Wilson and giving IU a 3-2 lead.
Indiana scored another run in the bottom of the third inning to take a two-run lead. Sabourin singled through the left side to start the inning, getting called out at second when Dickerson reached on a fielder’s choice. Devine got the second out of the inning when Earley lined out to left but after Lyon doubled to rightfield to put two in scoring position, Rogers singled through the left side. Dickerson would score easily from third with Lyon holding up at third and trying to score when Rogers was caught by Glad rounding too far at first. Glad threw to first to Ray to take out Rogers, but Ray noticed Lyon trying to score at home and threw a strike to the plate to nail Lyon and get UK out of the inning.
Kentucky loaded the bases in the top of the fourth inning for Johnson, who would start a one-out rally. Nidiffer started the rally by singling to leftfield followed by walks to Wiley and Black. Johnson then sent a laser into right-centerfield for his second double of the season, plating Nidiffer and Wiley to tie the game. Bisson then grounded out to first that scored Black and give UK a one-run lead. The rally would continue when Wright scorched a single through the right side, scoring Johnson and brining up Glad, who flied out to left to end the inning with UK leading 6-4.
IU would answer with Ritz starting the inning with a double, his second of the game, ending Devine’s day as UK would turn to the pen and bring in Wijas. Wijas started his outing with a balk before throwing a pitch, advancing Ritz to third. Ethan Wilson then doubled to leftfield, scoring Ritz and cutting the UK lead to one. After Wes Wilson struck out swinging, Micah Johnson singled into left-centerfield to score Ethan Wilson and tie the game at 6-6. Sabourin followed with a single to rightfield that put runners on second and third when the throw by UK’s Johnson sailed high. Indiana would then take the lead when Dickerson hit a sacrifice fly all the way to the wall in centerfield, scoring IU’s Johnson. The Hoosiers scored the fourth run of the inning when Earley reached on an error by Glad that scored Sabourin from third. Lyon then doubled to rightfield to put runners in scoring position for Rogers who lined out to right to end the inning.
The scoring continued in the fifth with Indiana going to the bullpen and brining in Matt Igel. Ray greeted Igel with a first-pitch solo homer to rightfield, a towering shot that easily cleared the fence in right-centerfield. The inning continued when Kapteyn hit a double to centerfield followed by back-to-back singles by Nidiffer and Wiley with Wiley’s single scoring Kapteyn to tie the game at 8-8. IU recorded the first out of the inning when Black popped out to second base before Johnson hit a fly out to centerfield that allowed Nidiffer to advance to third. With runners at the corners and two outs, Bisson stepped in and gave Kentucky another lead with a RBI single through the left side. The inning ended when Wright flied out to center.
Kentucky started another rally in the sixth inning when Ray tripled to right-centerfield to score Glad, who walked to start the inning. Kapteyn followed the triple by Ray with a groundout to third and then Nidiffer reached first on an error at third. Kentucky would pick up another run when Wiley placed a perfect bunt single to the right side, scoring Ray. Black then walked to load the bases with one out for Johnson. Johnson would come through again, lacing a single to rightfield that scored Nidiffer. After a Bisson fly out to leftfield, Wright flied out to right-centerfield to end the inning.
UK showed impressive power in the seventh inning, getting back-to-back-to-back homers from Ray, Kapteyn and Nidiffer. The innings started with Glad walking for the third time in the game followed by Ray, who blasted his second homer of the game into centerfield. Kapteyn then followed with a no-doubt blast into straight away center for UK’s 15th run of the game and then Nidiffer finished the homer party with a laser homer to right-centerfield to give UK a 16-8 lead.
Indiana scored five two-out runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to inch closer to the Wildcats behind a two-run homer Ethan Wilson before getting three runs in the ninth to tie the game and send it to extra innings. All three runs in the ninth were scored via the home run with Dickerson hitting a two-run shot and Lyon belting a solo shot.
Kentucky took the lead in the top of the 10th, getting an RBI single from Nidiffer that scored Ray, who drew a one-out walk and stole second to get into scoring position before Earley plated the winning run in the bottom of the frame.
Full recap coming soon ...