LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After belting three homers Saturday against No. 28 South Carolina, Kentucky junior first baseman Gunner Glad ripped two home runs and added four RBI, leading the Wildcats to a 6-3 win over the Wright State Raiders, on a picture-perfect Wednesday evening at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Glad, a junior and native of Tulsa, Okla., was coming off a career weekend that saw the slugger tally a three home run game against the Gamecocks in the first game of the Southeastern Conference series. Making his ninth start of the season after missing 12 games due to injury, Glad has had an electrifying impact on the Wildcat lineup. Glad has now hit a team-high six home runs in 31 total at bats, hitting for a .419 average (13-for-31), with a double, four walks and 15 RBI. Glad joined lead-off man Chris Bisson in the multi-hit column, with Bisson tallying a 2-for-4, two run scored game, his team-leading 10th multi-hit game.
Kentucky (18-9) got great pitching performances from junior starter Clint Tilford, senior Jonathan Huff and sophomore Logan Darnell. It was only the second time all season that the Wildcat pitching staff did not record a walk in the game. Tilford, a West Paducah, Ky., native, threw four innings for the Wildcats, giving up three hits, one earned run and striking out three batters. He was relieved of his duties in the fifth inning, when Huff came into the game for Kentucky and posted four of his strongest innings of the season. The native of Amarillo, Texas, posted the same line as his teammate, Tilford, going four innings and allowing only three hits and one earned run while striking out three. Darnell sealed the win for the Wildcats in the ninth, allowing one run on two hits but getting two batters to strikeout and the other to groundout to end the inning.
The Wildcats will return to SEC competition this weekend when they travel to play the Ole Miss Rebels in Oxford, Miss., for a three-game set. All the action can be heard on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio) with the Voice of UK Baseball Neil Price calling the action. Fans can hear the game live in Lexington on WLAP 630-AM and in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM.
Kentucky got on the board first in the bottom of the first inning, plating one run on two hits to take a 1-0 lead. Bisson led off with a hard-hit single to the shortstop, beating the throw to first for an infield single. The next hitter, shortstop Chris Wade, bounced a single up the middle, reaching first for a single. After a throwing error on a botched pick-off attempt moved both runners into scoring position, Glad lofted a sacrifice fly into center field, scoring Bisson.
Wright State (13-15) answered with a run in the top of the second, tying the game at 1-1. After Tilford got a quick groundout to start the frame, Garrett Gray got hit by the first pitch he saw, moving to second after Kory Twede singled through the left side of the infield. After Tilford got a swinging strikeout, Gerald Ogrinc plated Gray with a single to right field, just before the throw from Cory Farris.
Kentucky posted two more runs in the third inning when Glad sent a bomb to deep left field for his fifth homer of the season. The inning started when Bisson hit a hard ball up the middle that caromed off the pitcher and went into right field. Wright State starter Travis Lamar then got out the next two batters before facing Glad. The Kentucky designated hitter sent a rope well over the left field wall giving the Wildcats a 3-1 lead.
UK brought in Huff in the fifth inning to face the Raiders. Huff started the inning giving up a double to Ogrinc to right center field, who later advanced to third on a bunt back to the pitcher. With one out and a runner at third, Ryan Ashe sent a hard hit ball up the middle that was gathered in by Huff throwing to third to start a run down with the base runner between third and home. Burns finally caught up to Ogrinc and tagged him out for the second out and then threw to second base to get Ashe trying to advance to second.
Glad electrified the Kentucky offense again in the sixth inning when he hit his sixth home run of the season and his second in the game. With one out, Glad sent a laser shot that easily flied the McDonalds sign in left center field for his second multi-homer game of the season. Kentucky placed a runner in scoring position after the Glad bomb, but to no avail as pitcher Lee Valencheck got the final two outs of the inning, one on a strikeout and the other on a grounder to second.
The Wildcats added two insurance runs in the seventh inning getting two runs on two hits. The inning started when Bryan Rose hit a sharp single through the right side of the infield, later scoring when freshman Andy Burns ripped a line drive down the third base line for his third double of the year. Kentucky got the second run of the inning when Wade bunted towards first to score Burns from third base, giving UK a 6-1 lead.
The Raiders cut the lead to four in the eighth inning when first baseman Jeff Mercer sent a two-out, solo-home run to left center field. It was Mercer’s second homer of the season.
WSU tried to rally in the ninth inning getting singles by Jake Hibberd and Ogrinc, with Ogrinc being an RBI single into right center field. But Darnell made sure to close the door, getting the next batter to hit a chopper back to him to end the game.