In the eighth, UK’s Nick Kennedy retired Western in order on a groundout and a pair of called third strikes. Western turned to its seventh pitcher of the game, RH Rye Davis. Navarro Hall, batting from Braden Kapteyn, grounded out to second. Keenan Wiley and Marcus Nidiffer struck out. At the end of eight innings: Western Kentucky 6, Kentucky 3.
UK’s Jordan Cooper ran into trouble in the sixth inning. After fanning Casey Dykes, Western’s 7-8-9 batters reached to load the bases — Jake Wells singled, Kori Petri walked and Logan Robbins was hit by a pitch. Then, Matt Payton doubled to left-center, scoring two runs. Cooper fanned Jared Andreoli, then issued an intentional walk to Kes Carter, reloading the bases. Matt Rice grounded to second for an inning-ending force play at second. For a third consecutive inning, Western went to the bullpen, this time bringing in RH Phil Wetherell. He set down the first two Cats he faced, but Taylor Black reached when left-fielder Petri dropped a shallow fly for a two-base error. Neiko Johnson walked, resulting in another change of pitchers for the Hilltoppers. This time, it was LH Garrie Krueger. He got Chad Wright to bounce out to first. At the end of six innings: Western Kentucky 4, Kentucky 3.
Western’s Monte Ketchum led off the fourth inning with a walk. One out later, Jake Wells moved Ketchum to third by singling sharply to right field. Kory Petri was hit by a pitch, but plate umpire Roger Fulks ruled that Petri didn’t attempt to get out of the way. Next pitch, Petri was called out on a check swing. WKU coach Chris Finwood argued both calls to no avail. Logan Robbins lined to left, where Chad Wright made a controlled hop to go up and get the ball. UK regained the lead in the bottom of the inning. RHP Tyler Gilliland came on to open the inning for Western. Keenan Wiley reached on a one-out single up the middle, his second hit in as many at-bats, then stole second. Marcus Nidiffer’s single up the middle brought Wiley around to score. After four innings: Kentucky 2, Western Kentucky 1.
Western came on to tie the game in the third. With one out, Matt Payton was hit by a pitch. He took second when RH Sam Kidd made an errant pickoff throw. John Andreoli singled up the middle to score Payton. LH Mike Kaczmarek came on in relief of Kidd. After walking Kes Carter, Kaczmarek gets out of the jam with UK’s second double play in as many innings. Right fielder Cory Farris snagged Matt Rice’s fly ball, then pegged a strike to third baseman Gunner Glad, who held on as Andreoli slid hard. In the bottom of the inning, Chris Bisson drew a two-out walk and Glad was hit by a pitch. A double steal put the runers in scoring position, but Farris struck out on a 2-2 pitch. After three innings: Kentucky 1, Western Kentucky 1.
Nothing doing for either team in the first inning. Western got a two-out single by Kes Carter and a walk by Matt Rice, but both were stranded when Monte Ketchum fanned. UK got a leadoff single from Neiko Johnson, but he was picked off by RHP Brian Edelen. At the end of one, no score.
Western Kentucky’s Hilltoppers are in Lexington to take on the Kentucky Wildcats in a non-conference baseball game at Cliff Hagan Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
The Hilltoppers (20-5), ranked as high as No. 18 in the nation, will send right-hander Brian Edelen (3-0, 3.32) to the mound.
UK, as high as No. 3, will counter with right-hander Sam Kidd (1-0, 6.61). The Wildcats (17-8) are in the midst of a 20-game stretch that includes 19 against ranked teams. The lone non-ranked team, Cincinnati, fell to UK Tuesday in the Queen City, 11-2.
Western won 10-9 when it visited Lexington last season.
Western Kentucky — Matt Payton SS; Jared Andreoli RF; Kes Carter CF; Matt Rice C; Monte Ketchum DH; Casey Dykes 3B; Jake Wells 1B; Kory Petri LF; Logan Robbins 2B. Pitching: RH Brian Edelen (3-0, 3.32).
Kentucky — Neiko Johnson DH; Chad Wright LF; Chris Bisson 2B; Gunner Glad 3B; Cory Farris RF; Braden Kapteyn 1B; Keenan Wiley CF; Marcus Nidiffer C; Taylor Black SS. Pitching: RH Sam Kidd (1-1, 6.61).
Umpires – Roger Fulks HP; Keith Shartzer 1B; Bryan Donnelly 3B.
Weather — 73 degrees, 9 mph wind in from RF.