McCarty’s Pinch Hit Homer Lifts UK Over WKU
Sophomore Katie McCarty’s two-run pinch hit home run snapped the Wildcats’ six-game losing streak and gave UK an 8-6 win over Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers took game one by a final of 10-4 but Kentucky took the second game to improve to 18-17 on the year. Western Kentucky is now 16-23 overall with the split.
With five homers on the day, the Wildcats now have 45 home runs this season, shattering the former school record of 37 set in 2004.
The Wildcats got on the board first in the opening game. Natalie Smith reached on a three-base fielding error by the WKU shortstop Ashley Contreras and came around to score on her second error of the play to give UK the early 1-0 lead. Brooke Marnitz followed with a solo homer over the wall in right field to put the Cats up by two runs.
The Hilltoppers took the lead in the top of the second after scoring six runs on five hits to take a 6-2 lead. WKU made it a 9-2 lead in the top of the fourth on a pair of back-to-back home runs.
A single run in the top of the fifth pushed the Western lead to eight at 10-2. Marnitz extended the game when she homered over the second fence in straight-away center for her 16th longball of the season. The two-home run performance marks the third time this season that Marnitz has gone yard twice in the same game.
The Cats attempted to rally in the bottom of the seventh. Smith and Audrey Meyer reached on back-to-back singles to lead off the final inning. Katie Campbell singled to right field to load the bases and Smith would plate a run when Molly Johnson was hit by a pitch. Gina Florence reached on a fielder’s choice but Meyer was erased at the plate for the second out. Ashley Fertic followed another fielder’s choice that resulted in the third out of the game as Florence was thrown out at second to end the game.
The Wildcats had six hits on the day, led by Marnitz who was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI. Johnson was 0-for-1 with two walks and an RBI, while Smith was 1-for-4 and scored a pair of runs in the loss.
Megan Jolly was tagged with the loss after allowing nine runs – six earned – on 10 hits in 4.0 innings of work. She struck out four and evened her record at 6-6 with the loss. Jennifer Young threw the final three innings and allowed one run on four hits with one strikeout.
In game two, the Hilltoppers took an early lead with three runs in the top of the first. WKU made it a 6-0 lead with a single run in the fourth and two more in the fifth.
The Wildcats did not record a hit until the home half of the fourth. Meyer drew a lead off walk and Marnitz followed with a bloop single that fell in right. Campbell then erased the shutout with her 10th home run of the season to cut the lead to 6-3.
Marnitz led off the sixth with her third home run of the day to make it a 6-4 game. Johnson then singled with one away and went to second when Alli Eckman reached on a fielder’s choice. Both would come around to score when Fertic tripled off the wall in center to tie the score at 6-6. Pinch hitter Katie McCarty then stepped to the plate and in just her third at-bat of the season, she delivered a two-run homer over the wall in right field to give UK an 8-6 lead.
Campbell, Marnitz and Fertic each collected two hits in the win. Campbell was 2-for-3 with three RBI, while Marnitz scored twice and drove in a run. Marnitz thrice homered in the twin bill, giving her 17 for the season. Campbell belted her tenth homer in the second game, while McCarty’s homer was the first of her collegiate career.
Amber Matousek tossed 3.1 innings of relief and earned the win to move her record to 6-5. The freshman did not allow a run, gave up just two hits and struck out two en route to the victory.
The Wildcats will enjoy a weekend off for Easter before returning to action next Tuesday. Kentucky will host in-state rival Eastern Kentucky for a single game set to begin at 5:30 p.m.