LEXINGTON, Ky. -- With the game tied 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Collin Cowgill and Sawyer Carroll hit back-to-back home runs, lifting the No. 17 Kentucky Wildcats to a dramatic, come-from-behind 6-5 win over state rival Morehead State, on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Cowgill strolled to the plate with the game tied at four and one out in the bottom of the eighth, launching a 1-0 offering into the party deck in right-field for his team-high 14th home run of the season. Carroll followed, ripping his 1-0 offering into deep centerfield, for his 11th homer of the year, giving UK a lead it would not relinquish.
Morehead State dominated the game through the first six innings, holding a commanding 4-0 lead entering the bottom of the seventh inning. The Wildcats responded with four runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game, setting the stage for Cowgill and Carroll’s heroics. Wiley got UK started in the seventh, leading off with a walk, moving to second after Cowgill ripped a hard infield single to third. Carroll loaded the bases with a single through the right side, bringing Brian Spear to the plate. Spear delivered his second hit of the year with the bases juiced, a single up the middle, scoring Cowgill and Wiley. Ryan Wilkes scored Carroll with a single through the right side. With Spear at third and one out, Chris Wade hung a shallow fly ball into left field, fielding by the shortstop, who fired to the plate attempting to get the game-tying run out at the plate. Spear slide past the tag, evening the game at 4-4.
Cowgill finished the night 2-for-4, launching homers in consecutive games, after belting a blast at Cincinnati on Tuesday. With 14 home runs this season, Cowgill ranks tied for second in the NCAA, three behind Georgia shortstop Gordon Beckham – a Cape Cod League teammate of Cowgill’s this summer. Beckham, who was named the mid-season NCAA Player of the Year Wednesday by Baseball America, notched his 17th home run of the season, a three-run walk-off job in UGA’s 7-5 win over Georgia State Wednesday. Carroll, who along with Cowgill is a National Player of the Year candidate, leads the SEC in hitting with a .459 average.
Cowgill, rated as the best outfield arm in the 2007 preseason by Baseball America, also threw out the go-ahead run from deep in the right-field gap in the top of the eighth inning, his fifth outfield assist of the year.
Wildcat catcher Marcus Niddifer had another excellent performance behind the dish, throwing out two would-be base stealers in the game. On the year, Nidiffer has thrown out 9-of-12 attempted base stealers. Offensively, Nidiffer finished 2-for-4 at the plate.
Kentucky returns to action on Friday, hosting the Florida Gators in a three-game set. First pitch at Cliff Hagan Stadium Friday is set for 6:30 p.m. ET. The game can be seen live on the Big Blue Sports Network, with Dick Gabriel, Doug Flynn and Ryan Lemond calling the action.
Kentucky (28-7) senior southpaw Andrew Albers picked up the win, tossing 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, striking out two and allowing two hits to improve to 5-1 on the year. UK junior right-hander Scott Green picked up his first save of the year and the fifth of his career (3 in 2005, 1 in 2007), tossing the final inning, striking out two.
MSU closer Quentin Morgan took the loss, allowing the two homers in the eighth, working 1 2/3 innings.
Morehead State (12-21) got on the board in the fifth inning, getting back-to-back, one-out doubles from Michael Fear and Travis Redmon, to push across the first run of the game. Drew Lee scored Redmon with a single through the right side, just out of reach of a diving Wilkes. With Allen at third, Marc Midden scored Allen with a groundout to the first baseman.
Morehead got another run in the sixth inning, as Tommy Warner led off walking Andrew Wertz, who came around to score on a two-out hit from Michael Fear.