LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Trailing Western Michigan through the top of the seventh inning, No. 29 Kentucky used a two-run, game-tying home run from outfielder Troy Frazier and a go-ahead RBI single from freshman Braden Kapteyn – part of a seven-run bottom of the seventh – to post its 23rd consecutive non-conference home win, on Tuesday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (5-2) posted its 23rd straight non-conference home win, dating back to the 2007 season. The Wildcats faced a 6-4 deficit entering the bottom of the seventh inning. UK would get a game-tying, two-run jack from Frazier to dead centerfield and Kapteyn notched his game-best third RBI with a single up the middle, scoring the decisive run in the seventh, giving UK a lead it would not relinquish. The homer marked Frazier’s team-best second home run of the season.
The Wildcats were lead at the plate by Kapteyn, making his second career start. A dynamic two-way player, Kapteyn finished the day 3-for-4 with three RBI and a walk, reaching base safely his first four appearances and in 4-of-5 plate appearances. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder, made his first career start in UK’s season-opening series at No. 22 Coastal Carolina, hitting a homer in his second career plate appearance in Sunday’s game, adding a scoreless, two strikeout eighth inning on the hill. On the year, Kapteyn has batted .700 (5-for-8) with a homer and four RBI, totaling a save and a 0.00 ERA in two mound appearances, striking out four in 2.1 innings.
Freshman Cory Farris joined Kapteyn with a multi-hit day, scoring a game-best three runs, while adding a walk. Catcher Marcus Nidiffer added two runs on a 1-for-2, three walk evening. Second baseman Chris Bisson and first baseman William Campbell added two RBI.
Freshman pitcher Sean Bouthilette got the start and went two innings for the Wildcats striking out two. In his first career start last weekend, Bouthilette worked five scoreless, striking out three and allowing only two hits. Junior righty Clint Tilford and sophomore lefty Logan Darnell kept the game close for the Wildcats, with Tilford working four innings and Darnell posting the win with the decisive three frames. Tilford, a West Paducah, Ky., native, threw four innings allowing just one run and striking out three Bronco batters. Darnell, who came into the game in the seventh, pitched three scoreless innings, allowing one unearned run and striking out three.
Kentucky continues action tomorrow when they face Eastern Kentucky at Cliff Hagan Stadium at 4 p.m. ET. Eastern Kentucky is coming off an upset of in-state rival Louisville. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sport Network (radio) with the Voice of the UK Baseball team, Neil Price. Fans in Lexington can catch the action live on WGVN 1580-AM.
UK head coach Gary Henderson will turn the ball over to freshman Alex Meyer tomorrow afternoon to make his first career start. Meyer, rated as the second-best freshman in college baseball in the preseason by Baseball America, has made two appearances this season, recording four strikeouts.
Western Michigan (1-6) would get on the board early in the first inning behind a pair of two-out doubles. The first double came by left fielder Chris Lewis who sent a hard hit ball down the right field line all the way to the wall. After Matthew Abro would walk, the designated hitter, Nathan Marquardt would drive in two runs with a ground ball double just over the first base bag. Bouthilette would get out of the inning by striking out the next batter.
Bouthilette faced trouble again in the second inning, giving up a two-run home run to center fielder Kyle Galbraith. After allowing his third double of the game, Bouthilette would get out the next two batters before giving up a scoreboard shot to Galbraith. The homer gave Western Michigan a 4-0 lead after one and a half inning.
But Kentucky got on the board in the bottom of the second inning, when Kapteyn ripped his first career double. With runners on the corners and one out, Kapteyn sent a rope down the left-field line. Farris, who was hit by a pitch, scored easily cutting the lead to three, but Nidiffer was gunned out at the plate by the cutoff man.
Kentucky rallied in the fourth inning after two walks put runners at first and second for Kapteyn. The freshman from Lansing, Ill., who doubled and recorded an RBI in the second inning, picked up another RBI with a hard-hit single up the middle, advancing to second on the throw to third. With two runners in scoring position, Campbell plated his first run of the season with a fielder’s choice, cutting the WMU lead to one.
Tilford would get into trouble in the fifth inning, facing a bases-loaded jam. After a scintillating defensive play by freshman Andy Burns diving to his right to make the first out, Tilford gave up a single, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch to put runners on second and third, later walking the bases loaded. The junior would settle down, striking out Marquardt and getting Simotes to ground out to Burns, who made another great defensive play to end the inning.
Western Michigan added a run in the sixth inning, when Gerlach lead off with a single and advanced to second on a pickoff attempt to first base. Gerlach then would advance to third on a ground out to second and finally come home to score on a ground out to short to give the Broncos a two run lead.
The Wildcats cut the lead back to one in the bottom of the inning on a RBI double by Campbell. A leadoff single by Farris, who advanced to second when Kapteyn got hit by a pitch, would start the inning. Campbell, came up and hit a rope to right center scoring Farris and cutting the lead to one.
The next inning, Darnell would hit the hill to try to keep it a one run lead. After a lead-off line drive off the wall in left center, Frazier threw a laser to second to get out Lewis. Darnell then hit Abro, who advanced to third on a throwing error by Burns, who rushed a throw in an attempt to get the lead runner at second. With runners on the corners and one out, Henderson would come out to talk to Darnell and his infield. Darnell would strike out the next batter, but then give up a single down the third baseline to Simotes, scoring WMU’s sixth run. WMU would try to wave in another run on Simotes double but Marquardt would get thrown out at home plate, on a nice relay from shortstop Chris Wade.
Kentucky kept the momentum going in the bottom of the inning, taking a 12-6 lead after seven. Wade would reach base to start the seventh on an error. Wiley then tried to bunt him over to second but hit it too hard back to the pitcher, who turned and threw to second to get out Wade. With one on, one out and a 2-2 count, Frazier would deliver the game-tying homer with a laser shot just over the center field wall, his second home run of the season. Kentucky then would receive walks to both Farris and Nidiffer, and take their first lead of the game when Kapteyn picked up a single up the middle to score Farris. The Wildcats would pick up four more runs in the inning. Burns would get an RBI on a sacrifice fly to right field, Bisson would drive in two runs on a double to left and Wade would bring in Bisson on a single up the middle. Wade would then steal second advancing to third on a throwing error by the catcher. He would later score when Wiley grounded to second base reaching on an error giving Kentucky a 12-6 lead.
Darnell would make sure Kentucky wouldn’t give that lead up. The Joelton, Tenn., native pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth inning to get his first career win.