CONWAY, S.C. -- For the first time in 1,094 days, the No. 19 Kentucky baseball team suffered a loss in February, falling at the 22nd ranked Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, in front of 936 fans at Vrooman Field at Charles Watson Stadium.
Kentucky (2-1) had not suffered a loss during the season’s opening month since a Feb. 24, 2006 setback against Arkansas State in San Antonio. UK had posted back-to-back 19-0 starts to the season in 2007-08. The Wildcats played two games Saturday, dispatching 2008 Colonial Athletic Association Champion James Madison, 8-3 behind strong performances from freshmen Sean Bouthilette and Cory Farris.
Coastal Carolina, winners of the 2008 NCAA Conway Regional, got dominating pitching outings from its starter Austin Fleet and relievers Matt Rein and Nick McCully. Fleet, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound right-hander, keep UK off balance for six innings, allowing only three hits and one run, while striking out six. Coastal then turned to a shut-down bullpen, with the lefty, Rein, tossing two hitless frames with four strikeouts and McCully closing the door with two strikeouts and a hitless ninth.
UK’s top five hitters in the order combined to go 0-for-19, with only Marcus Nidiffer, Spencer Korus and Chris Bisson totaling hits. On the mound, UK turned to junior righty Clint Tilford for the starting assignment, with Tilford only lasting 3.1 innings. Tilford allowed four hits, three runs – only one earned – walking two and striking out two. After Coastal chased Tilford from the game, junior Tyler Henry kept UK in the ball game, tossing 4.2 innings, allowing only two hits and one run, while striking out a career-best eight.
Kentucky returns to action on Sunday in its final game of the tournament, facing Coastal at noon ET at Vrooman Field. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network, with Dick Gabriel calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game on WGVN 1580-AM.
Coastal jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the second inning, as Tilford walked the lead-off man, Adam Rice, who advanced to second on a wild pitch. Taylor Motter followed with a bunt single and after a sac bunt, Tyler Bortnick reached on a hard-luck error charged to Chris McClendon at third base, which allowed Rice to score. After Scott Woodward loaded the bags with a walk, Rico Noel lofted a sacrifice fly into left field, with UK’s Troy Frazier showing excellent range to make the play and hold CCU to just one run on the play.
CCU struck again in the fourth, chasing Tilford from the game, taking a 3-0 lead. Dan Bowman led off with a single into left field and Bortnick followed with a single into center field, just out of the reach of a diving Keenan Wiley. With Woodward at the plate, UK catcher, Nidiffer, attempted to throw to get the runner at second, who was taking a big lead off the bag. Nidiffer threw a strike, but his ball plunked Bowman and skipped into the deserted part of right-center field, allowing Bowman to scamper home for the run. That chased Tilford from the game and Henry entered, quickly educing two strikeouts to get out of the frame.
UK got a run back in the fifth inning, to cut the Coastal lead to 3-1. Nidiffer led off with a hard-hit single into left field and Korus ripped a double down the left-field line, moving Nidiffer to third base with one out. Bisson scored Nidiffer with a ground out to the shortstop, getting the Wildcats on the board.
Coastal had a golden opportunity to stretch its lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, loading the bases off Henry with no outs. Jose Iglesias led off with a single into left and Chance Gilmore got plunked by a pitch. Rice attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt, fielded by Henry, who attempted to get the lead runner at third base, but McClendon was not on the bag to get the force out, loading the bases. McClendon, considered one of the top defensive third baseman in the nation, came up clutch on the next play, fielding a hard-hit grounder from Motter and firing a strike to get the force out at the plate, with Nidiffer completing the double play with a good throw to first base. Henry promptly struck out Bowman to get the Wildcats out of the inning unscathed.
CCU (2-0) notched a run in the sixth inning for the final margin, as Bortnick led off with a double down the line, moving to third on a sacrifice bunt from Woodward. Bortnick came around to score on a Henry wild pitch, making it 4-1 Coastal.
FRESHMEN CARRY WILDCATS TO 8-3 WIN OVER JAMES MADISON
Sean Bouthilette Goes Five Scoreless in First-Career Start; Cory Farris Contributes Four RBI
CONWAY, S.C. -- Behind a four-RBI performance from freshman Cory Farris and a five shutout innings from freshman Sean Bouthilette, making his first career start, the No. 19 Kentucky Wildcats posted a 8-3 win over the James Madison Dukes, on Saturday afternoon at Vrooman Field.
Kentucky (2-0) posted its second win of the season, after dispatching Sun Belt power Troy in its season opener on Friday, 8-3. The Wildcats turned to Bouthilette in the first game of a twin-bill, his first career appearance, with the freshman hurling five shutout innings, allowing only two hits, while striking out three.
Farris, a freshman outfielder from Florence, Ky., hit in the five-hole for the second consecutive game and delivered a 2-for-4, four RBI day. The Louisville Slugger High School All-American, who was a part of UK’s banner fourth-ranked recruiting class, was 1-for-3 in his first career start against Troy on Friday, adding an RBI, while scoring twice.
UK got multiple-hit games from Farris and shortstop Chris Wade, with Wade, Keenan Wiley and Chris McClendon each scoring twice. On the mound, Bouthilette notched his first career win, turning the ball over to freshman Alex Meyer in the sixth. Meyer, a 6-foot-8, 205-pound right-hander, allowed four infield hits in his three innings – all in the eighth – which translated into three runs allowed. Logan Darnell closed out the game for UK, despite loading the bases with one out in the ninth, before inducing the ground-ball double play, started by freshman Andy Burns at second base.
Kentucky jumped up to an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, as Wiley led off with a walk and Wade laid down a perfect push-bunt single. After McClendon drew a walk to load the bags, clean-up man Troy Frazier notched an RBI with a bases-loaded walk. With the bases loaded, Farris ripped a two-RBI single into the opposite field, scoring Wade and McClendon.
In the second, UK got another run, as Wiley led off with a single into the gap in left-center field. Wade drew a walk to push Wiley to second and after a grounded double play put Wiley on third, he scored on a wild pitch with Frazier at the dish.
In the fifth inning, UK notched another run, as Farris reached on a two-out hit by pitch. After Marcus Nidiffer singled to third, Burns belted an RBI single into left field, scoring Farris.
The Wildcats added to its lead in the sixth, stretching the lead to 6-0. Freshman Chad Wright recorded his first career hit on a bunt single to lead off and after Wiley’s sacrifice, was prepared to tag from third base on a fly out to right field. However the wind played tricks on the right fielder, causing an error, moving Wright home and Wade to second.
In the eighth inning, JMU got to Meyer, as Mike Fabiaschi led off with an infield single to Wade at short, with Alex Foltz following with a single through the left side, which was vacated by Wade due to a JMU hit-and-run. Fabiaschi moved to second on a wild pitch, with Chris Johnson scoring Fabiaschi with an RBI groundout. Trevor Knight followed with an infield hit that scored Foltz and after another infield hit, Knight scampered home on a wild pitch.
UK got two more runs in the eighth, padding its lead. Wade reached on a two-out single, with McClendon following with a single through the right side. After Frazier drew his second walk of the day, Farris notched his second two-RBI single of the day, this one through the right side of the infield, just under the glove of the diving second basem