Murray State broke open a 3-3 game with a two-out, bases-clearing double in the bottom of the eighth inning and held off No. 2 Kentucky for a 7-3 win, in front of a packed 1,379 on a gorgeous Tuesday night at Brooks Stadium.
Kentucky (41-12) suffered just its third loss of the year in non-conference play, as the Wildcats drop to 23-3 in 2012 in non-league action. Murray State used seven pitchers in the game, using a different hurler in the first six innings, including all three of its weekend starters, for the win in front of an excitable crowd at Paducah’s Brooks Stadium.
The Wildcats rallied with a two-run homer from Luke Maile to tie the game in the fourth inning, taking a one-run lead with a run in the top of the fifth inning. Murray State evened it with an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth inning as UK dropped a fly ball in leftfield with two outs. Murray State then posted the game-winning rally in the bottom of the eighth inning.
UK freshman starter Chandler Shepherd worked 4.2 innings, allowing five hits and three runs – two earned – walking three and striking out one. Freshman A.J. Reed (4-2) took over for Shepherd with two outs and the go-ahead runner in scoring position in the fifth inning, getting a swinging strikeout to get out of the jam and working three innings, allowing three hits without a walk, striking out two with the decisive run scoring. Senior Alex Phillips replaced Reed with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning and a runner on first base, walking two and allowing a hit, with three runs scoring in the game-winning eighth inning. Tim Peterson got the final out of the eighth.
The Wildcats got eight hits in the game, lead by a career-high three hits from Michael Williams. Maile launched his team-high 12th homer of the year, with UK also getting hits from Austin Cousino, Brian Adams and Matt Reida. Adams doubled and added a single in the ninth inning.
Murray State (23-30) starter Bryan Babin worked the first inning, with Luke Shuemaker tossing a shutout second inning and Tyler Beers hurling a perfect third frame. Joe Major allowed two runs on two hits in the fourth inning, with Tyler Saltsman taking over in the fifth, working one frame with two hits and one run surrendered. Mark Roberts worked two shutout innings in the sixth and seventh, allowing one hit and one walk. Will Handlin (5-3) took over in the eighth inning, tossing the final two innings of the game for the win.
UK returns to action on Thursday, traveling to Mississippi State at 7:30 p.m. ET at Dudy Noble Field. The series will mark the final of the regular season as UK owns a precious half-game lead in the SEC Title race over South Carolina and a one-game lead over Western Division leader LSU. LSU travels to South Carolina to conclude the regular season. All three games will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, available in Central Kentucky on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at Ukathletics.com.
Murray got on the board in the bottom of the second inning, as Mike Kozlowski drew a walk and Brand Eggenschwiler blooped a single on the chalk down the leftfield line. Noah Zipko loaded the bases with a walk and Dylan Wheeler scored Kozlowski with a single into shallow centerfield. After a strikeout for the first out, Colton Speed hit a grounder at first base, with UK getting the lead runner out at the plate on the fielder’s choice. Ty Stetson then forced home the second run on a RBI walk.
A native of Dublin, Ohio, Cousino led off the top of the fourth inning with a grounder at first base, with the ball getting lost in the sun and rolling into rightfield, with Cousino hustling into second base. After a deep fly out in the gap from Adams moved Cousino to third, Maile smashed an opposite-field, two-run homer over the wall in rightfield, his team-best 12th homer of the year.
UK took the lead in the top of the fifth inning, as Reida reached on a single up the middle and Cousino drew a walk on a 3-1 offering to push Reida to scoring position. Adams then drilled a double down the leftfield line to score Reida and give UK a 3-2 advantage.
Murray State tied up the game at 3-3 in the sixth inning on a two-out error in the outfield. Eggenschwiler reached on a two-out single, scoring after a two-out fly ball was dropped in the gap, with Eggenschwiler motoring home from first base.
The Breds won the game in the bottom of the eighth inning, as Speed singled to leftfield with two outs to end Reed’s outing. UK then turned to Phillips in relief to face the left-handed hitters, with Phillips walking two to load the bases before Ritzheimer punched a bases-clearing double down the rightfield line for the game-winning hit. Koslowski then singled to rightfield to score the seventh run of the game.