LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The 18th-ranked Western Kentucky Hilltoppers erased a 3-2 deficit with two-run innings in the sixth and seventh and held on for a 6-3 win over the No. 30 Kentucky baseball team, in front of a season-high 2,618 fans on a picture-perfect Wednesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (17-9) held a narrow 3-2 lead entering the bottom of the sixth inning but the Hilltoppers plated two runs in the sixth and seventh frames to take the three-run lead. Western Kentucky’s bullpen then took control of the game, with WKU weekend starter Shane Cameron tossing a scoreless seventh and Hilltopper closer Rye Davis shutting the door with two lockdown innings in the eighth and ninth.
Western Kentucky (21-5) starter Taylor Haydel (1-1) picked up the win, tossing the decisive fifth inning, allowing one hit and one unearned run. Cameron struck out two in his perfect seventh inning and Davis struck out four without allowing a base runner in his two frames, picking up his fifth save of the year.
UK freshman right-hander Jordan Cooper (1-1) took the loss, allowing two hits and three runs in his two innings of work, walking two and striking out two. UK got an excellent relief appearance from Nick Kennedy who threw 1.2 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit while striking out four. Junior Matt Little finished off the game for Kentucky, facing the final two WKU batters of the game while recording one strikeout. The Wildcats also used juniors Mike Kaczmarek and Kyle Jackson out of the pen. Kentucky started freshman righty Sam Kidd who lasted 2.1 innings, giving up two hits and one run while striking out one.
The Wildcats got good offensive nights from seniors Gunner Glad and Keenan Wiley. Glad started all the scoring for Kentucky with a laser home run over the left-field wall in the bottom of the second inning. A native of Tulsa, Okla., Glad finished the game 1-for-3 with two RBI. Wiley was the only Wildcat to post a multi-hit game, finishing 2-for-4 with a run scored and a stolen base, his seventh of the season. UK also got hits from juniors Neiko Johnson and Chris Bisson and senior Marcus Nidiffer. UK, the Southeastern Conference leader in stolen bases, stole six bases in the game, with Bisson swiping his 11th and 12th bases of the season.
Kentucky will return to action on the road, traveling to Fayetteville, Ark., to face off with No. 10 Arkansas in a three-game set beginning Friday. All games will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action.
The Wildcats got on the board in the bottom of the second inning, taking a 1-0 lead. Glad led off the inning by launching a 1-0 offering over the left-field fence, his fourth homer of the year and his second in as many games.
WKU evened up the game in the top of the third inning, as Kidd hit Matt Payton with a one-out pitch, with Payton moving to second after Kidd threw a pickoff attempt past Braden Kapteyn at first base. Jared Andreoli followed and singled up the middle to score Payton.
UK regained the lead with a run on two hits in the bottom of the fourth inning, taking a 2-1 advantage. After Kapteyn grounded out to lead off, Wiley singled up the middle, promptly stealing second for his seventh steal of the year. Marcus Nidiffer scored him with a one-out RBI single up the middle.
The Hilltoppers evened up the game with a run in the top of the fifth, as Andreoli singled up the middle to lead off and Kes Carter got hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. After a successful double steal put both runners in scoring position, Matt Rice grounded out to Bisson at second base, allowing Andreoli to score.
The Wildcats regained the lead with a run in the bottom of the fifth inning, plating one run on one hit and a WKU error. Bisson singled up the middle with one out and stole second base, moving to third on a misfired throw from the catcher on the steal. Glad scored Bisson with an RBI groundout.
Western Kentucky got two runs on two hits in the top of the sixth inning, taking a 4-3 lead. After Casey Dykes struck out looking, Jake Wells singled through the left side, Kory Petri drew a walk and Cooper hit Logan Robbins to load the bases. Payton followed and singled into left-centerfield, scoring Wells and Petri.
WKU added two runs to its lead in the top of the eighth, taking a 6-3 lead. Monte Ketchum led off and popped a high ball up in the infield, but the ball was dropped for an error. After a groundout moved Ketchum to second, Wells scored him with a bat-handle single into leftfield. After Jackson hit Logan Robbins, Payton scored Wells with a single chopped through the right side of the infield.