Mar 7, 2014 9:20 PM
A two-out error in the ninth inning allowed the game-tying run to score and a two-out error in the 10th inning forced in the go-ahead runs, lifting Ball State to a 10-8 win over No. 22 Kentucky, in the opener of the three-game series, on Friday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (11-3) entered the bottom of the seventh inning trailing 5-3, before mounting a five-run rally to take an 8-5 lead into the top of the ninth inning. Ball State got a single and a double to lead off the ninth, with a one-out walk loading the bases, with a groundout forcing home the sixth BSU run and the seventh run coming on a wild pitch. An error at third base then allowed the game-tying run to score and even up the game heading to the bottom of the ninth.
UK loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning but couldn't get the winning run across heading into extra innings. After retiring the leadoff man a walk, single and wild pitch put two runners in scoring position with two outs. UK got a grounder hit to third base, with the ball skidding off the glove for a two-out error, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
The Wildcats got the game-winning run to the plate in the bottom of the 10th but he was stranded, as the Cardinals used 1.1 relief innings from senior lefty Nick Bautista (1-0) for his first win of the year.
The UK loss snaps a 98-game winning streak when staked to an eighth-inning lead, dating back to 2011, with UK owning a 150-6 all-time record under coach Gary Henderson when owning an eighth-inning advantage. It also snapped UK's nine-game winning streak in 2014, its longest win streak since claiming a school-record 22 straight in 2012.
UK starting pitcher A.J. Reed - the NCAA leader in home runs and RBI - took a hard-luck no-decision, exiting to start the ninth inning with a three-run lead. A 6-foot-4, 240-pound southpaw, Reed worked eight innings, allowing seven hits and five runs - two earned - walking two and striking out three. He allowed three unearned runs in the top of the fifth inning, before UK responded with the five-run seventh inning.
The Wildcats were led at the plate by a career-high 4-for-6 game from senior catcher Micheal Thomas, who collected three RBI and his fourth double of the year. Reed went 2-for-3 with two RBI and two intentional walks, boosting his season total to a .440 average (22-for-50) with a nation-leading 26 RBI in 14 games.
UK also got two-hit games from Austin Cousino, Ka'ai Tom and Thomas Bernal, with Kyle Barrett and Max Kuhn each drawing two walks, with Barrett smacking a clutch double. Freshman second baseman JaVon Shelby added a hit, with UK starting freshman Connor Heady at shortstop for the third consecutive game, as senior Matt Reida was sidelined with a minor injury. It marked the first time in Reida's career and the first time for UK since 2010 that the Wildcats went three straight games without Reida starting.
UK's Ryne Combs (1-1) suffered his first loss of the year, allowing two hits and two unearned runs in the 10th inning. Zach Strecker allowed the three hits and three runs in the ninth, walking one and striking out two. Freshman lefty Logan Salow came on in the 10th to replace Combs, striking out the final hitter on three pitches, with Salow striking out 10 of the first 19 hitters he has faced in his NCAA career.
Ball State (10-3) starter T.J. Weir shined in six innings, allowing six hits and three runs, walking five and striking out three. BSU turned to its scheduled starter for Sunday, Cody Manering with a lead in the seventh inning, with UK getting three runs off the left-hander. BSU used its closer Zach Plesac, and B.J. Butler, Tyler Jordan and Bautista in relief.
The series will resume on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with Dick Gabriel calling the action. With the Kentucky women's basketball team advancing in the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament, the game will be online at UKathletics.com for the whole game, and on WWTF 1580-AM after the conclusion of the women's game.
UK got on the board in the first inning with Reed ripping a single to rightfield to score Barrett, who had led off the game with a nine-pitch walk.
Ball State got on the board in the top of the third inning, as Alex Maloney doubled to leadoff, scoring after a pair of sacrifices.
At the top of the fifth inning, Jarrett Rindfleish scored after a throwing error by Reed. Maloney scored off a single from Plesac. The Cardinals extended their lead 4-2 after a fielder's choice by Ryan Spaulding bringing in Caleb Stayton. Shortly after, Sean Godfrey hit a double scoring Plesac.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Cousino doubled to leadoff, with Reed forcing him home with an RBI groundout.
UK took the lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, as Barrett led off with a double to leftfield, with Kuhn getting hit by a pitch and Reed drawing an intentional walk to load the bases. Tom then delivered a game-tying, two-RBI single up the middle, taking second on a wild pitch. Thomas then drove in the go-ahead run with a two-RBI double, with Thomas taking third on Bernal's single to right and scoring on a balk, which resulted in an ejection for BSU coach Rich Maloney.
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