LEXINGTON, Ky. - Micheal Thomas led off the seventh inning with a game-tying home run and A.J. Reed singled with two outs to driving in the go-ahead run and lift Kentucky to a 5-3 comeback win over No. 15 Indiana, on Tuesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (29-22) entered the bottom of the seventh trailing 3-2 after allowing a two-run inning for the Hoosiers, who rank No. 13 in the NCAA RPI and sports one of the nation’s top offenses. Thomas led off the frame with a no-doubt blast over the leftfield fence to even up the game, with UK getting the two-out, go-ahead RBI single from Reed to take a 4-3 lead. The Wildcats added an insurance run in the eighth on an Austin Cousino single and steal of second, and a RBI single from Matt Reida.
The Wildcats then turned to record-setting closer Trevor Gott in the ninth, with the junior notching his season-record 12th save of the year with just nine pitches, striking out two. A native of Lexington, Ky., Gott now has a record 23 saves in his career and has paced the dynamic UK bullpen to 86 consecutive wins when leading after eight innings, dating back to 2011. Since Gott arrived on campus as the Gatorade Kentucky High School Player of the Year out of Tates Creek in 2010 the Wildcats have gone 88-1 when leading after eight frames.
UK starter Jerad Grundy worked his sixth quality start of the year, tossing six strong innings, allowing four singles and one run, walking two and striking out two. Senior Walter Wijas took over to start the seventh, getting two outs and allowing two runs to score – one earned. Dylan Dwyer and Chandler Shepherd also worked in the seventh, with Shepherd getting out of the frame with a pop up. Shepherd (5-0) worked 1.1 shutout innings, not allowing a base runner, for his fifth win.
The Kentucky offensive attack totaled 10 hits in 32 trips to the plate, drawing two walks, stealing three bases and getting plunked by one pitch. UK was led at the plate by Reida – a native of Russiaville, Ind. – who went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a steal. Reed, a native of Terre Haute, Ind., belted his 13th homer of the year as part of a 2-for-3 game. His 13-homer season marks the most for a UK player since first-team All-Americans Sawyer Carroll and Collin Cowgill hit 19 homers in 2008.
UK also got the solo homer from Thomas, his third of 2013, and a hit and steal from Cousino. Max Kuhn, a native of Zionsville, Ind., had a 2-for-4 game and freshman outfielder Kyle Barrett extended his hitting streak to a club-high 15 games with a first-inning single.
The win marked UK’s seventh triumph over a top-25 team in 2013, with UK sporting 13 wins against top-45 RPI teams on the year.
Indiana (38-12) starter Will Coursen-Carr worked six innings, allowing five hits and two runs, walking one and striking out three. IU used Luke Harrison (4-2) and Brian Korte in the seventh, with Harrison allowing the game-tying homer from Thomas to leadoff and the go-ahead run with two outs. Scott Effross pitched the eighth, allowing two hits and one run.
UK will conclude its regular season with a three-game series at Missouri, starting on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET at Taylor Stadium.
Barrett worked his way around the bases in the bottom of the first to give Kentucky a 1-0 lead through one inning. He reached on an infield single and then moved over to third on a wild pitch and throwing error from the catcher, before taking home on a wild pitch.
Reed knocked an opposite field homer over the wall in left-centerfield in the bottom of the third to increase UK’s early lead to 2-0.
Indiana recorded its first run of the evening on a two-out solo homer from Dustin DeMuth in the top of the sixth.
The Hoosiers took the lead with two runs in the seventh. Casey Smith led off the inning with a single into leftfield and a throwing error on a Nick Ramos groundball advance the two baserunners to second and third with no outs. Ricky Alfonso singled to score the two baserunners, giving IU its first lead of the game.
Kentucky responded in the bottom half of the inning with two runs to take back the lead. Thomas opened the inning with a solo home run over the leftfield wall to tie the game at 3-3. Reida followed the lead-off homer with a single up the middle and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. After Barrett walked to put two runners on, Reed knocked a two-out single into centerfield to score Reida and help UK retake the lead at 4-3.
The Wildcats added one in the bottom of the eighth to take a 5-3 lead into the ninth. Cousino singled up the middle with one out and stole second to move into scoring position. Reida brought Cousino home with a single into leftfield.