CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With Kentucky holding a 7-5 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, UK reliever Mike Kaczmarek allowed four consecutive base runners to reach – including a grand slam from Jedd Gyorko – as the West Virginia Mountaineers posted a 10-7 win over the Wildcats, in front of 2,452 fans at Appalachian Power Park.
Kentucky (16-5) had its pitching shelled through the first four innings, chasing starter Sean Bouthilette in the fourth before Kaczmarek entered and allowed the disastrous fourth frame. Bouthilette, a freshman from Elizabethtown, Ky., allowed nine hits and six runs in his 3.1 innings. Kaczmarek hurled 3.2 innings, allowing five hits, four runs, two walks and three strikeouts, settling down after the fourth inning.
The loss snaps a 10-game, non-conference winning streak for the Wildcats and marks just UK’s second all-time defeat to the Mountaineers. After the loss to WVU, in the first meeting in the series in 18 years, UK leads the all-time series 10-2, suffering its first loss in 21 years to West Virginia, dating back to a 1988 setback.
After the first four innings saw a total of 17 runs scored, both teams pitchers settled into a rhythm, holding the game scoreless over the final five innings. UK’s 7-5 lead entering the fourth inning was short lived, as WVU plated five runs on four hits to take a lead it would not relinquish.
The Wildcats return to action Wednesday, facing Cincinnati in a mid-week battle, with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can catch the action live on WGVN 1580-AM.
West Virginia (16-5) got a dominating bullpen outing from closer Chris Enourato (5-0, 3 saves) and reliever Justin Ellis (2-1). The Mountaineers turned to Enourato – whose 13 saves in three years ranks second all-time in WVU history – in the seventh inning, with the right-hander tossing 2.1 scoreless innings in relief. Ellis lasted 5.2 innings, allowing two runs while striking out five Wildcats.
UK got multi-hit games from Chris Wade, Chad Wright and catcher Brian Suerdick. Second baseman Chris Bisson registered a team-high three RBI and a hit, with Wade totaling two RBI.
Kentucky got on the board first with two runs in the top of the first inning. Bisson led off the game, working a three-ball count and getting plunked by his second pitch of the year. After a balk and a Keenan Wiley pop out advanced Bisson to third, Wade laid down a bunt single on the dirt on the first base line. Bisson came around to score on a wild pitch, with Wiley plating after Braden Kapteyn grounded into an RBI fielder’s choice.
WVU responded with three runs in its half of the first, taking a 3-2 lead. Justin Parks led off with a single through the left side of the infield and after Austin Markel got hit by a pitch, Jedd Gyorko belted his 13th double of the year down the left-field line, scoring Parks. Second baseman Vince Belnome cleared the bags with a two-RBI single into left-center field.
UK struck again in the second inning, as Troy Frazier led off with a walk, his club-best 12th of the year. Suerdick, making his first career start, ripped his first single of the year into right-center field. Andy Burns loaded the bases with a hit by pitch and Bisson plated Frazier with a sacrifice fly into left field. After a balk moved both runners into scoring position, Wade lined a two-RBI single through the left side, making it 5-3 UK.
The Moutaineers tied up the game at 5-5 in the third inning, as Gyorko doubled to lead off, his second double of the game and 14th of the year. Belnome singled into left center, moving Gyorko to third. The next hitter, Tobias Streich followed and popped up down the right-field line, with Bisson tracking near the UK bullpen. Bisson made an over the shoulder catch but did not notice that Gyorko tagged up at third and his throw to the plate was not in time. Joe Agreste singled Belnome home with a base hit through the left side of the infield.
UK allowed a five-run fourth inning, as WVU took a 10-7 lead. Parks singled with one out and Markel and Gyorko loaded the bases with singles of their own. Kaczmarek walked in the first run of the inning with a bases-loaded walk and then allowed a grand-slam homer from Belnome.