COLUMBIA, Mo. - Keaton Steele’s leadoff homer in the bottom of the eighth inning broke a tie and then Steele tossed a shutout ninth inning for the save to lift Missouri to a 4-3 series-clinching win over Kentucky, on Friday night at Taylor Stadium.
Kentucky (29-24, 10-19 Southeastern Conference) opened up with a three-run inning in the third to take a 3-0 lead, before Missouri got a run back in the bottom of the frame and evened it up with a two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Steele led off the eighth with a solo homer down the line in leftfield to lift the Tigers to the lead.
UK starter Kyle Cody worked 5.1 innings, allowing three hits and three runs, walking four and striking out four. Senior Walter Wijas (2-1) came on in relief of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the sixth, allowing two runs to score on a single and working 2.2 innings. The loss was the first of Wijas’ four-year career, dropping him to 7-1.
UK collected five hits in the game, getting singles from Austin Cousino, Paul McConkey and Micheal Thomas and doubles from Max Kuhn and Matt Reida.
Missouri (18-30, 10-19 SEC) starter Eric Anderson worked 7.1 innings, allowing four hits and three runs, walking three and striking out four. Lefty Jake Walsh (2-1) picked up the win with two outs in the eighth inning. Steele saved his second straight save in the series with three outs in the ninth.
The regular season and series will conclude on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET at Taylor 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 can hear the game live in Central Kentucky on WLAP 630-AM, on WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville and online at UKathletics.com.
Kentucky took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning, sparked by Reida’s laser double over the head of Dane Opel in rightfield. After a strikeout, Thomas drew a walk and after a pop up, Zac Zellers loaded the bases with two outs for Reed. Reed was plunked by a pitch to force in Reida and bring up Cousino with the bases loaded. Cousino drilled a two-RBI double down the leftfield line to give UK a 3-0 lead.
Missouri got a run back in the bottom of the third, as Josh Lester was hit by a one-out pitch and Opel drew a 10-pitch walk. After a lineout for the second out, Dylan Kelly lofted a single over the head of a leaping Reida at shortstop, scoring Lester.
In the bottom of the sixth, Missouri chased Cody and even the game with a pair of runs. Cody hit Steele with the first pitch of the inning and walked Kelly. After a sacrifice bunt, Cody walked Pearson to load the bases with one out and bring on Wijas in relief. Shane Segovia singled into left centerfield to even the game at 3-3.
Steele gave Missouri the lead with a leadoff solo homer down the leftfield line in the bottom of the eighth.