By Tom Hurley | @TomHurleyKernel
While the focus on Tuesday night may have been on Robert Morris’ Charles L. Sewall Center, No. 9 UK baseball was paying attention to the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky University at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
UK (16-4, 2-1 SEC) left 15 runners on base as it dropped the contest 6-3 in the Cats’ first game since returning from winning a spring break series in Florida.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Kyle Cody exited the first inning with three earned runs to his name as the Hilltoppers jumped to a 3-0 lead.
UK got on the scoreboard in the second inning thanks to an RBI single from junior shortstop Matt Reida that drove home freshman designated hitter Kyle Barrett from third base.
Western restored and then added to its three-run lead in the fifth. Freshman left-handed pitcher Dylan Dwyer inherited a runner on second after replacing Cody.
Dwyer hit a batter before giving up a two-run RBI single to WKU senior first baseman Ryan Huck.
The runs meant Cody took five earned runs with him to the clubhouse, along with a career-high seven strikeouts and three hits after 4.2 innings of work.
The Cats got one run back in the home half of the fifth courtesy of a two-out double from Barrett to make it a 5-2 ballgame.
Huck homered to left center field in the top of the seventh inning to once again give the visitors a four-run advantage.
UK rallied in the ninth and threatened to not only tie the game, but even win it.
The Cats loaded the bases with one out for junior catcher Micheal Thomas, who earned an RBI the painful way after being hit by a pitch.
Reida stepped into the batters box representing the winning run but he could do no more than ground into a double play to confirm the 6-3 final score line.
Cody took the loss to drop to 1-1 on the season. Sophomore outfielder Austin Cousino went 0-for-5 on the night as the Cats took their second home loss of 2013.
The Cats next play Friday against Mississippi State at Cliff Hagan Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.