Wade Homers, Frazier Adds Five RBI
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Freshman shortstop Chris Wade’s two-run home run - the first of his career - highlighted a nine-run sixth inning, as the No. 17 Kentucky baseball team overcame a sluggish start to post a 15-5 win, on Tuesday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (4-0) got solid performances from several fresh faces along with Wade, including sophomore outfielder Troy Frazier, who finished the day 3-for-3, with two doubles and five RBI. Wade finished 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI, adding a double. Leadoff man Keenan Wiley posted a 2-for-3 day, including two runs and two RBI, drawing a walk and getting hit by two pitches. Preseason All-American Collin Cowgill scored a team-high three runs, driving in a run, drawing a walk and getting plunked by a pitch.
The Wildcats started sophomore right-hander Tyler Henry, a top-50 freshman a year ago, as ranked by Baseball America. Henry worked five innings, striking out six and allowing five runs. Senior southpaw Tommy Warner picked up the win, tossing three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out two. Tyler Howe, UK’s everyday catcher, closed out the contest on the mound, working one hitless inning.
Oakland starter Matt Trausch took the loss, tossing 104 pitches in his season debut, allowing nine runs.
The home-opening series, originally schedule for a Tuesday-Wednesday two-game set, was moved to a 1 p.m. ET start time on Tuesday in order to beat the threat of inclement weather. With weather settling in, the second game of the series has been rescheduled for 4 p.m. ET, on Thursday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky got things going at its first opportunity, as Wiley led off getting hit by the second pitch he saw. After a Brian Spear sacrifice bunt, Sawyer Carroll drew a walk. Cowgill plated Wiley with a single through the left side that was misplayed by the left-fielder, allowing Carroll to move to third. Frazier delivered the first two RBI of the day, sending a single up the middle, scoring Cowgill and Carroll.
Oakland (0-1) didn’t waste anytime taking the lead in the second inning, jumping all over Henry for a 4-3 lead. Scott Sexton led off with a single to left field and Taylor Traub followed with a base hit of his own. Catcher Josh Kozuch knocked a single through the left-side of the infield. With Sexton coming around from second attempting to score, a Wiley throw - that appeared to be in time to nab Sexton - bounced under catcher Marcus Nidiffer’s glove for an error. Left-fielder Dustin Joffrion cleared the bases, sending a full-count offering from Henry over the right-field fence, scoring Kozuch and Traub.
In the third, Oakland added to its lead, plating a run, beginning with a double from Rob Merkle. Sexton moved Merkle to third and Traub scored him with a RBI groundout. .
With the Wildcats trailing 5-3 in the fifth inning, UK cut the lead to one with a lone run. Cowgill drew a walk and Frazier knocked in his third RBI of the contest with a double off the wall in left field, narrowing missing a homer.
Still trailing entering the sixth, UK regained control of the contest, plating nine runs to take a 13-6 lead. Nidiffer led off the frame with a single and after a Wade sacrifice bunt and a Neiko Johnson groundout moved Nidiffer to third, Spear ripped an RBI single up the middle. The batter before Spear, Wiley, got hit by a pitch. Carroll drove in Wiley and Spear with a double off the right-field wall, scoring the duo. Continuing the two-out rally, Cowgill got hit by a 3-0 pitch and Frazier cleared the bases of two runners with a double to left. Third baseman Chris McClendon drew a walk and scored after Nidiffer forced a fielding error, charged to the second baseman. This all set the stage for Wade, making just his fourth career start, to send a line-drive shot over the left-field wall.
In the eighth, UK capped its scoring with a two-run frame. McClendon delivered with a leadoff hit by pitch and Wade doubled down the left-field line putting both runners in scoring position for Wiley. Wiley came through with a single to left, scoring Wade and McClendon, for the final margin 15-5.
Kentucky returns to action on Thursday with a 4 p.m. ET matchup with Oakland at Cliff Hagan Stadium.