LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Kentucky staged a furious ninth inning rally, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate after trailing by five runs, but couldn’t quite claw all the way back, falling 5-3 to No. 2 Louisville in front of a record crowd of 6,210 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium.
In all nine of UK’s defeats this season the tying or go-ahead run has come to the plate in either the eighth or ninth inning.
Louisville, which entered the game having won 50 of 51 regular season home games since the beginning of the 2016 season, took advantage of several two-out miscues by the No. 8 Wildcats in the first three innings, scoring all five of its runs with two outs.
In each of the first two innings UK starter Zack Thompson recorded two quick outs before the Cardinals rallied for runs. In the first, an error and an infield hit set up a two-run double, and in the second three consecutive two-out, 3-2 count walks led to two more runs for the Cardinals on Devin Hairston’s two-run ground rule double to the left-centerfield gap.
Meanwhile, the Cats (21-9, 7-2 SEC) created scoring opportunities itself but couldn’t find the breakthrough hit until the ninth inning. They left seven runners in scoring position on the night, including four in the first three innings.
Still, UK would not succumb to the crowd and the situation. The bullpen threw 5.1 scoreless innings to keep the game within reach before the ninth inning rally. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases before Tristan Pompey beat out an infield hit to first to drive in a run and extend the Cats’ streak of not being shutout to 49 games. Zach Reks followed with a line drive off the first baseman’s glove to score two more and bring the go-ahead run to the plate but was thrown out trying to steal second to end the game in an effort to get the tying run in scoring position.
AT THE PLATE
Kentucky had 11 hits but left nine runners on base, including seven in scoring position on a night when it just couldn’t dial up the breakthrough hit. The Wildcats broke through for three runs in the ninth inning, extending a streak of 49 games without being shut out, creating an opportunity to come all the way back for the win. Marcus Carson had three hits after being moved down in the lineup, while Evan White, Tristan Pompey and Zach Reks each had multi-hit games as well.
ON THE MOUND
Freshman starter Zack Thompson had some tough luck in closing out innings. A two-out error led to two unearned runs in the first inning, and after retiring the first two batters in the second inning, he walked three in a row to set up two more runs. The Wildcats got stellar relief pitching from the bullpen. Brad Schaenzer got UK out of a jam in the third inning and added two scoreless frames. Austin Keen, Colton Cleary and Chris Machamer each threw a shutout inning.
Bottom 1st – With two out, Devin Hairston reached on an error. Brendan McKay beat out an infield single and Drew Ellis followed with a two-run double to left field. Louisville 2, UK 0.
Bottom 2nd – With two out, Ryan Summers, Josh Stowers and Colby Fitch drew walks to load the bases. Hairston hit a ground-rule double to left-center, scoring Summers and Stowers. Louisville 4, UK 0.
Bottom 3rd – Ellis hit a leadoff double, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt, and was forced home when Stowers was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Louisville 5, UK 0.
Top 9th – Marcus Carson singled, pinch-hitter Gunnar McNeill singled and Connor Heady walked to load the bases. With two out, Tristan Pompey beat out a chopper to the first baseman, scoring Carson. Zach Reks ripped a two-run single to right, tallying pinch runner Zeke Lewis and Heady. Louisville 5, UK 3.