LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Sophomore leftfielder Chad Wright collected two hits, added two RBI and stole a base and freshman southpaw Taylor Rogers tossed six innings with only one run allowed, as the No. 29 Kentucky Wildcats posted a series-clinching 4-3 win over Bowling Green, Saturday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (5-0) picked up its fifth consecutive win to open the season, riding the arm of Rogers (2-0) in just his second collegiate start. The 6-foot-3, 170-pound native of Littleton, Colo., was again splendid on the mound, going six innings, allowing just six hits and one run, walking two and striking out three. The reigning Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week, Rogers tossed first-pitch strikes to 16-of-25 hitters and has now thrown first-pitch strikes to 41-of-54 hitters faced this season. With two wins in his first two starts, Rogers has tossed 13.2 innings, allowing only one run and totaling a sparkling 0.66 ERA.
“He had another good performance and although you never like to see guys struggle through it a little bit, he certainly wasn’t as sharp as he was last time out,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said. “Early on, the first two innings especially, when he got into a little jam and even late in counts his tempo sped up on him a little bit and was rushed. I was pleased that he was able to get out of that and he had a base runner every inning. I was pleased that he made those adjustments.”
Offensively, Wright led the way for the Wildcats, leading the team with a 2-for-4, two-RBI performance at the plate, adding his first steal and double of the season. Preseason All-American Chris Bisson had a 1-for-3 afternoon, with a walk, with Andy Burns, Keenan Wiley, Gunner Glad, Lance Ray and Taylor Black each charting a hit. Ray, making his first career start in right field, finished with a double, while Black had an RBI single and his third stolen base of the season.
After Rogers, UK freshman right-hander Jordan Cooper followed and came one out shy of the save, tossing the final 2.2 innings, allowing four hits and two runs, with two strikeouts. After forcing a double play to clear the bases with two out in the ninth, Cooper loaded the bags, forcing Henderson to turn to sophomore right-handed closer Braden Kapteyn, who got the final out to pick up his first save of the season and the fifth of his career.
UK had an excellent defensive performance on the afternoon, turning a season-high four double plays, equaling the total of double plays turned for the Wildcats in the first four games of the year.
BGSU starter Michael Frank (0-1) took the loss, allowing six hits and four runs in his six innings of action. Charles Wooten finished out the game for the Falcons hurling the final two innings without allowing a run.
The series will resume Sunday, with the two teams squaring off in the finale at 1 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with Dick Gabriel calling the action. The game will also be broadcast live on UKathletics.com. UK will send junior southpaw Logan Darnell (0-0, 3.00 ERA) to the mound to face off with BGSU’s Kevin Leady (0-0, 8.10 ERA).
Bowling Green (0-5) scored first in the top of the first inning, as shortstop Jon Berti led off with a single up the middle and second baseman Logan Meisler drew a walk. After Dennis Vaughn laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Berti to third base, Tyler Elkins grounded out to third base, with Berti scoring on the RBI groundout.
The Wildcats regained the lead with four runs on three hits in the bottom of the second inning. After Marcus Nidiffer popped out to lead off, Keenan Wiley got hit by his club-high third pitch of the season. After Glad flew out, Ray connected on a 1-1 offering and belted it off the top of the 30-foot wall in right field for his first hit of the season, with Wiley scampering home on the two bagger and Ray moving to third on a throwing error by the rightfielder. Black followed and scored Ray with a hard-hit single through the left side of the infield. After Bisson drew a walk, Wright doubled off the top of the wall in left-centerfield, allowing Black and Bisson to score and make it 4-1 UK.
BGSU made things interesting in the top of the ninth inning, getting two runs on four hits. The inning started with a single to centerfield by Galvin. Cooper then seemed to stop any Falcons rally, getting a 4-6-3 double play from Duncan, but Cooper walked Pitzulo and gave up two consecutive singles. Kentucky then turned to Kapteyn to save the game. Kapteyn, in his first possible save appearance of the season, gave up a single and walked a batter with the bases loaded. With BGSU only down one and the bases load, Kapteyn got Elkins to groundout to Bisson to end the game and give UK the victory.