LEXINGTON, Ky. (3/20/13) – A three-run first inning spurred the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers to a 6-3 win over No. 8 Kentucky, on Tuesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (16-4) suffered its first midweek loss of the year, dropping to 4-1 in midweek tilts, as the Toppers plated three run on three two-out hits in the top of the first. WKU then added two runs in the fifth inning and a tally in the seventh, with UK scrapping out single runs in the second and fifth. In the ninth, UK rallied to bring the go-ahead run to the plate, getting one run, before a game-ending double play was turned up the middle.
UK collected 11 hits in the game and drew seven walks, leaving a total of 15 runners on base as the Wildcats stranded a runner in each of their first seven innings. UK fell to 10-1 in 2013 when out-hitting its opponents.
UK freshman starter Kyle Cody (1-1) worked 4.2 innings, allowing three hits and five runs, walking four and striking out a career-high seven. Cody, making his third career start, allowed three runs on three two-out singles in the top of the first, before settling down to retire 12 straight from the first to the fifth innings. In the fifth, a pair of two-out walks ended his outing, with UK turning to its bullpen.
Kentucky used Zach Strecker, Dylan Dwyer and Chandler Shepherd to get out of the fifth inning in relief of Cody. Shepherd worked 2.1 innings, allowing three hits and one run, striking out two. Lefty Ryne Combs worked 1.1 innings, allowing one hit. Senior Walter Wijas came on to get the final two outs of the ninth.
The Wildcats were paced by two-hit games from junior shortstop Matt Reida, sophomore third baseman Max Kuhn, junior second baseman J.T. Riddle and freshman rightfielder Kyle Barrett. Barrett recorded an RBI double and stole a base, while Reida singled home a run in the second. Kuhn doubled to leadoff the seventh, his sixth double of the year. Riddle also doubled and stole his fourth base of 2013. Zac Zellers, A.J. Reed and Paul McConkey each delivered knocks.
Western Kentucky (11-9) starter, freshman 6-foot-4, submarine righty, Alex Mercer worked three innings, allowing three UK hits and one unearned run, walking four and striking out four. Josh Bartley (1-0) picked up the win with 2.2 innings in relief, allowing five hits and one run, striking out one. Submarine lefty Austin Clay tossed 2.1 shutout innings, allowing two hits and no runs, walking one. Ian Tompkins came on to pitch the ninth, getting one out and allowing a run. Taylor Haydel picked up his third save of the year in getting the final two outs of the game.
Kentucky returns to action with its first home Southeastern Conference series of 2013, hosting No. 14 Mississippi State starting on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
The Hilltoppers opened the game with a quick three runs in the top half of the first. Cody walked the first two batters but followed with consecutive strike outs to give Western Kentucky runners on first and second with two outs. Ryan Huck opened the scoring with a single through the left side that would bring home Thomas Peter from second. Following an infield single to load the bases, Anderson Miller singled up the middle score Huck and Scott Wilcox and increase the lead to 3-0 through the first half inning.
Kentucky answered with one run in the bottom half of the second. With one out, Barrett singled up the middle. Barrett stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by the catcher. Greg Fettes walked, leaving runners on first and third for Kentucky. Reida delivered for the Wildcats, singling through the left side to score Barrett. Lucas Witt walked with two outs to load the bases but the Wildcats were unable to convert on the opportunity and left the inning down 3-1.
After a scoreless third and fourth, Western Kentucky added to its lead in the top of the fifth. Following to quick ground outs, Cody walked two consecutive batters to force UK to bring Strecker out of the bullpen. Strecker beaned the first batter he faced and with the bases loaded, Huck recorded to more RBI to increase the lead to 5-1. Two pitchers later, Kentucky would get out of the bases loaded jam allowing no more damage and trailing 5-1 through four and a half.
Kentucky added one run of its own in the bottom half of the inning with two outs. Kuhn singled up the middle and a pinch-hit single into rightfield from McConkey allowed Kuhn to move into scoring position. Barrett would knock in Kuhn with a double down the leftfield line but Kentucky wasn’t able to bring across the two runners in scoring position and was down 5-2 through five.
In the top of the seventh, Huck notched his fourth RBI of the night for WKU, knocking a solo home run over the leftfield wall to increase the Western Kentucky lead to 6-2.
UK rallied in the ninth, as Riddle doubled to leadoff and McConkey and Barrett drew walks to load the bases with one out for Micheal Thomas. Thomas was hit by his 10th pitch of the year to force in the third run of the game for the Wildcats. Reida then smacked a grounder up the middle, with WKU turning the game-ending double play.
Information provided by Brent Ingram
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