LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Mike Kaczmarek retired 12 of the 13 hitters he faced in relief and Gunner Glad belted his fifth home run in the last six games, as the Kentucky baseball team posted a dominating 5-0 win over No. 7 Louisville, in front of a season-high, sellout crowd of 3,819 fans Tuesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (19-11) rode a dominating performance from its bullpen and a middle-inning offensive outburst, including Glad’s two-run homer in the fifth inning, to its 22nd win in the last 30 meetings in the rivalry contest with Big East power Louisville. UK still leads the all-time series, 64-32-1, including a 31-12 mark in games played in Lexington.
Kaczmarek (1-0) was brilliant on the mound for Kentucky, going four innings in relief, allowing one hit while striking out two and walking none. The crafty lefty retired 11 straight to start his outing before giving up a double in the eighth, after rightfielder Cory Farris slipped charging the ball in the outfield. He finished the game retiring 12 of the 13 batters he faced, with Louisville held to just one runner advancing to scoring position over the last eight innings. The native of Orlando Park, Ill., who has been used as a situational lefty throughout the season, carded his longest outing of the season.
Kaczmarek replaced starter Jordan Cooper who lasted 3.2 innings for Kentucky in his second career start. Cooper, who was fresh off his best outing of the year going four innings at No. 10 Arkansas on Saturday, pitched a solid game for UK, allowing only three hits and no runs while striking out two. Junior Nick Kennedy finished off the game for the Wildcats, pitching 1.1 scoreless innings giving up no hits while striking out two.
Offensively, the Wildcats were led by Glad who recorded his fifth homer in the last six games. A native of Tulsa, Okla., Glad went 1-for-3 for the game with two RBI. Sophomore Chad Wright and seniors Keenan Wiley and Marcus Nidiffer each recorded RBI, with Wright ending the game 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored with Wiley posting a 1-for-4 game with his ninth stolen base of the season and Nidiffer going 2-for-4. Third baseman Andy Burns drew a pair of walks and scored a run, while Wiley added his ninth stolen base of the season. UK also got tremendous defense from shortstop Taylor Black, the Southeastern Conference leader in defensive assists, who totaled five assists – including a pair of highlight reel plays on ground-ball outs. Black, a native of Easley, S.C., also turned his 18th double play of the season.
Louisville (23-5) used seven pitchers in the game, pulling starter Tyler Mathis after three scoreless innings. Mathis gave up only one hit and struck out two UK batters before leaving the game for Justin Amlung (0-1). Amlung hurled 1.1 innings, allowing one run on one hit while striking out two, giving way to Matt Lea who did not record an out but gave up two runs while walking one. Gabriel Shaw, a native of Paducah, Ky., came into the game for Amlung in the fifth inning, giving up the two-run bomb to Glad that all but sealed the deal for Kentucky. Louisville would end the game with Brian Feekin, Matt Koch and Tony Zych. Feekin was the only one of the three to give up a run, going two thirds of an inning allowing one run on two hits.
The Wildcats return to action this weekend, hosting a three-game set with No. 24 Alabama starting Friday at 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 hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM and in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM. Game two of the series will be held Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET with Sunday’s first pitch set for 1 p.m. ET.
It looked like Louisville would start the scoring in the top of the first inning, getting three of its first four batters on base with help from an UK error and a walk. Ryan Wright looped a single into shallow right-centerfield to load the bases with one out and Phil Wunderlich at the dish, who grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the Cardinal threat.
U of L threatened to score in the top of the fourth inning when Wunderlich lofted a ball high into the air and off the top of the 30-foot wall in right field. With a runner on second and no outs, Cooper got a strikeout and an outstanding diving catch from Wiley in centerfield to rob Stewart Ijames of a single. After Cooper walked a batter, Kazcmarek came into the game and recorded the third out to end the Cardinals rally chance.
UK scored first in the game when Wiley gathered his team-high 16th two-out RBI on the season. With two outs and Farris on first after getting hit by a pitch, Wiley drilled a double down the right-field line. Farris, who was not running on the pitch, was waved home by third base coach Brad Bohannon when Bohannon saw that the relay throw was going into second base, allowing Farris to score. Wiley would be stranded at third after stealing a bag when Taylor Black struck out swinging.
Kentucky got its second run of the game on an RBI single to left centerfield by Wright, scoring Burns. Wright, who showed bunt at the beginning of the at bat, worked the count to full before looping a single into shallow left center to give UK a two-run lead. Burns got on by a walk, his second of the game. After the Wright single, Louisville would go to the bullpen to bring in Shaw to face Chris Bisson with a runner at first and one out. Bisson grounded out to second for the second out but Glad would do the damage for Kentucky drilling a two-run homer over the left-centerfield wall. The blast for Glad gave the Wildcats a 4-0 lead going to the top of the sixth inning.
The Wildcats scored again in the sixth inning getting a two-out RBI single from Nidiffer. With two outs, Black lofted a double into the gap in right field later scoring when Nidiffer singled sharply through the left side of the infield.