Collin Cowgill’s 2-for-3, four RBI day – highlighted by his 13th home run of the season – boosted No. 17 Kentucky to a 9-4 mid-week win over the Cincinnati Bearcats, marking its 20th consecutive non-conference victory, in front of a season-high 1,094 fans at Marge Schott Stadium.
The Wildcats picked up a big rivalry win over UC, a team that entered the tilt having claimed seven of its past eight games, including a series win over Big East front-runner Notre Dame. UK rode 10 hits, including multi-hit games from Cowgill, Keenan Wiley, Brian Spear and Tyler Howe. Wiley, Cowgill, Carroll, Chris Wade and Sawyer Carroll each tallied RBI, with Carroll extending his hit streak to a team-best nine games.
Kentucky (26-8, 7-8 Southeastern Conference) got a passable pitching performance from sophomore right-hander Clint Tilford who worked four innings, allowing four hits, two run – one earned, walking four and striking out two. Aaron Lovett relieved him, picking up his second win of the season, allowing three hits and one run, striking out one and walking two. Brock Baber closed out the game, working the final two frames, allowing one unearned run and two hits.
UC (19-13, 9-3 Big East) starter Nick Johnson took the loss, allowing six hits and six runs in 3 2/3 innings. Adam Calez, Evan Sanford, and Matt Heber closed out the contest for the Bearcats.
The Wildcats return to action with its second midweek game, hosting Morehead State on Wednesday at Cliff Hagan Stadium. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. ET and fans can catch the action live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio) with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price calling the action. In Lexington, the game can be heard on WLAP 630-AM and in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM.
Kentucky has not lost a non-conference game since a 2007 setback at Evansville in May.
Wiley led off the game with a hard grounder into the hole, a tough play for shortstop, Chris Peters, whose throw was in the dirt, allowing Wiley to reach on an error. Cowgill followed, laying down his first sacrifice of the year, to advance Wiley to second. SCarroll extended his hit streak to a season best nine games with a full-count RBI single up the middle.
The Bearcats answered with a run on back-to-back extra-base hits with two outs. After Tilford got the first two hitters, Josh Harrison ripped a line drive into the left-centerfield gap. Cowgill made a running dive at the ball, but it scooted by and to the centerfield wall, allowing Harrison to slide into third with a triple. Cameron Satterwhite followed driving a ball into the right-field alley, scoring Harrison. Kevin Johnson attempted to score Satterwhite with a bloop single into left field but Wiley gunned him down at the plate by several steps to keep the game tied.
Kentucky plated two runs in the second inning to take a 3-1 lead. Ryan Wilkes led off with a walk and Wade laid down his 12th sacrifice bunt of the season, good for second in the SEC. Tyler Howe scored Wilkes with a single into the right-centerfield gap, his first hit since Tuesday’s win over Louisville. After Chris Bisson and Wiley got on by a walk and a hit by pitch, Cowgill hung a sacrifice fly into deep centerfield, scoring Howe.
The Wildcats continued to swing hot bats in the third, as Bryan Rose led off with a hit-by-pitch, moving into scoring position after Brian Spear doubled off the right-field wall, his 12th double of the season. Wade notched his first RBI in 10 days – since game two of a twinbill vs. Mississippi State, grounding out to the third baseman for his 36th RBI of the season, scoring Rose.
UC got an unearned run in the third, riding two walks and an error to narrow the lead to 4-2. Tilford walked Jamel Scott to lead off and the speedy left-fielder moved to second while in motion on a Harrison groundout. After Satterwhite drew a walk, Mike Spina hit a grounder at Chris Bisson at third, who let the ball slide under his glove for the error, allowing Scott to score from second.
Continuing a trend of scoring in each inning, UK got two runs on three hits and a UC error in the fourth. Bisson led off hitting into a fielding error, charged to the UC shortstop, moving to second after Wiley laid down a perfect bunt single. Cowgill plated his second RBI of the game, ripping a hard single through the left side, scoring Bisson. Wiley attempted to move to third on the Cowgill single, getting gunned at third, but allowing Cowgill to move into scoring position – advancing to third on a wild pitch. Rose scored Cowgill with a well struck line-drive to right field, a sacrifice fly to give UK a 6-2 lead.
Cincy narrowed the UK lead 6-3, in the bottom of the seventh, getting one run across on two hits and a hit batter. With Lovett on the mound, the UK senior gave up back to back hits from Scott and Harrison, loading the bases by plunking Satterwhite. Lovett induced the bases-loaded double play, with one run crossing the plate, as Wilkes fielded the ball near the bag, quickly tapping the base and firing to get the batter, Spina at first.
The Wildcats answered the UC run in the top of the eighth, as Tyler Howe singled to lead off, moving to second on a sacrifice from Bisson. After Brock Wright pinch ran for Howe at second, Wiley scored him with his second single of the night, a floater in to right-center. Cowgill launched a rising line-drive, sent soaring well over the practice fields behind the 20-foot high left-field fence. The two-run bomb was Cowgill’s team-best 13th of the season.
The Bearcats got a run in the ninth, getting a leadoff single – misplayed by Rose in right field - from speedster Tony Campana, coming around to score on Harrison’s groundout to first.