UK baseball outlasts Xavier 9-6

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- No. 17 Kentucky used seven pitchers, getting a win from Kyle Cody and a save from Spencer Jack, in a 9-6 win over Xavier, on Wednesday evening at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Kentucky (18-7) jumped out to a 3-0 lead with three runs in the bottom of the first, before the Musketeers answered with three runs in the top of the second. After UK rallied to take a 6-3 lead with three runs in the fourth inning, Xavier fought back with a run in the fifth and two runs in the top of the sixth. UK mounted its game-winning rally with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.

UK starter Ryne Combs worked two innings, allowing four hits and three runs, walking one and striking out one. After allowing three runs in the top of the second, lefty Dylan Dwyer replaced him to start the third inning. Dwyer worked around a single in the third, striking out two in his first relief appearance of the year and his first action since a start at No. 16 Indiana on March 11. Taylor Martin worked a shutout fourth inning, striking out two. Sam Mahar took over to start the fifth, getting two outs and allowing one run on a strikeout and walk. Zach Strecker worked 1.1 innings, allowing three hits and two unearned runs, walking one and striking out one. Sophomore Kyle Cody worked a perfect seventh inning with a strikeout and junior Spencer Jack worked a shutout eighth inning and picked up his first career save with a shutout ninth.

The Wildcats – the NCAA leader in runs scored for the third consecutive week – plated nine runs on eight hits, with sophomore outfielder Dorian Hairston going 2-for-4 with a triple and an RBI. UK got hits from seven of eight starters, with Austin Cousino and Micheal Thomas – the lone UK players not to get hits – recording RBI. Max Kuhn, A.J. Reed, Ka’ai Tom, Zach Arnold, Matt Reida and JaVon Shelby each tallied hits, with Kuhn, Arnold and Shelby each notching doubles.

Xavier (12-11) starter Trent Astile (1-2) worked 5.2 innings, allowing eight hits and nine runs – six earned – walking three and striking out one. Sean Campbell worked 2.1 hitless innings in relief, striking out 24.

UK will return to action on Friday, opening a series at No. 5 Vanderbilt at 7:30 p.m. ET at Charles Hawkins Field.

Kentucky got on the board in the bottom of the first inning, as Cousino led off by getting hit by a 2-0 pitch. Kuhn then smacked a double down the leftfield line, scoring Cousino with the first tally of the game. After a fly ball from Reed moved Kuhn to third with one out, Thomas hung a sacrifice fly to leftfield to score Kuhn. Tom followed with a single into centerfield and after stealing second base, came around to score on Hairston’s two-strike, two-out RBI triple off the rightfield wall.

Xavier immediately answered in the top of the second inning, as Brian Bruening was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame. Jake Forrester then doubled down the leftfield, pushing Bruening to third base. Andrew Jernigan then singled up the middle to score one run and Stephen Schoettmer drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases with no outs. Combs then got a fly out from David Morton for the first out, with his throw holding the runners. Daniel Rizzie then singled through the left side to score Forrester and re-load the bases. Jernigan then scored on a wild pitch, advancing the runners up a base with one out. Combs then responded with a swinging strikeout of Joe Forney for the second out and a fly out to rightfield to end the inning.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, UK got a leadoff walk from Tom and a single to right-centerfield for Hairston to push Tom to third base. Arnold then smashed a double off the wall in leftfield, moving Hairston to third and scoring Tom. Reida followed with an RBI single to rightfield, scoring Hairston. Shelby then drew a walk to load the bases for Cousino with no outs. Cousino hung a fly ball to centerfield to score the third UK run of the frame.

Xavier got a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning, as Forney doubled to lead off the inning and Derek Hasenbeck drew a four-pitch walk. After a great diving catch by Cousino got the first out of the inning and pushed Forney to third base, Mahar got Bruening to strikeout for the second out. UK then turned to Strecker, who allowed a RBI single to Forrester for the fourth XU run of the game. Vinny Nottoli followed with an RBI fielder’s choice.

UK regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, plating three runs on two hits and a XU error. Reida was hit by a one-out, full-count pitch and Shelby doubled down the leftfield line. After a strikeout, Kuhn rifled a grounder through the legs of the third baseman, allowing Reida and Shelby to score. Reed then scored Kuhn with an RBI single up the middle.

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