LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Andy Burns hit his fourth homer of the year and right-hander Nick Kennedy tossed three shutout innings for the save in his first appearance of the season, leading the 22nd-ranked Kentucky baseball team to a 7-1 win over Evansville, Tuesday evening at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (10-1) was able to use Kennedy, a dynamic submarine reliever, for the first time since the beginning of the 2009 season and he responded with three shutout innings out of the bullpen for his first save of the season and the second of his career. Kennedy, who missed all but two games during the 2009 campaign due to injury, allowed only two hits and walked one, striking out three, tossing 29 strikes in 40 pitches.
Burns, a native of Fort Collins, Colo., led the charge offensively, one of five UK hitters with two hits. A 6-foot-2 third baseman and former high school Aflac All-American, Burns hit his fourth home run of the year and added his third double of the season, contributing two RBI. Seniors Gunner Glad (2-for-4) and Keenan Wiley (2-for-5) also added some offensive punch, with Braden Kapteyn and Michael Williams each charting two hits, with Kapteyn’s two hits coming as doubles pelted off the wall in leftfield.
UK starter Jordan Cooper (1-0) picked up the win for the Wildcats going four innings, allowing six hits, one earned run, four strikeouts and no walks in his first career start. The native of Shelbyville, Tenn., threw first-pitch strikes to 12-of-17 batters face and tossed 44 strikes in his 55 pitches.
The Kentucky freshman was replaced on the mound by junior right-hander Kyle Jackson. In his third appearance of the year, Jackson lasted two innings, giving up no runs and only one hit while allowing only one walk.
Evansville starter Scott Scheumann (0-2) went 2.1 innings for the Purple Aces, allowing three runs, none earned on three hits with two walks and a strikeout and being charged the loss. Scheumann was replaced by Jake Naumann who pitched 2.2 strong innings for UE giving up only three hits and no runs while striking out two. Naumann left for Keegan Dennis and then Zach Taylor. Dennis lasted an inning for Evansville, giving up one hit and no runs while Taylor went a scoreless two-thirds of an inning. Corey Davisson finished the game for Evansville, allowing four earned runs on five hits with one walk.
Kentucky and Evansville (3-9) will face off Wednesday, with first-pitch slated for 4 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game can be heard 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 WGVN 1580-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
UK got on the board with a pair of runs in the second inning, as Wiley reached on a one-out single up the middle and Kapteyn got hit by a pitch, with both runners moving into scoring position after a passed ball. During Williams’ at bat, Wiley came home to score on a wild pitch, with Williams walking. Kapteyn came home to score after Taylor Black smoked a hard-hit grounder at the shortstop, who bobbled it for an error.
UE answered with a run, cutting the lead to 2-1 in the top of the third. Leftfielder Alex Acheson led off with a grounder at UK’s shortstop, Black, who fielded it from the outfield grass on a high hop, enabling Acheson to reach at first. Cooper struck the next two hitters out, but Cody Fick found a hole on the left side for a single and Greg Wallace dropped a double down the left-field line, scoring Acheson.
UK added a run in the bottom of the third, as Johnson reached on an error and swiped second for his second steal of the game. Glad drove him in with a single into the hold on the left side of the infield.
The Wildcats broke through with four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to essentially put the game away. The inning started with back-to-back doubles from Kapteyn and Williams. The double by Williams, his second of the season, drove in Kapteyn and put him in scoring position for Black to pick up an RBI. Black singled through the left side and later scored on a two-run bomb by Burns. The homer by Burns was a laser shot over the left-centerfield wall and gave the Wildcats a 7-1 lead.