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By Tom Hurley | @TomHurleyKernel
A home run in the seventh inning spurred UK baseball to a 5-3 come-from-behind win over No. 15 Indiana at Cliff Hagan Stadium on Tuesday.
The Cats took a one-run advantage into the top of the seventh inning, where the Hoosiers plated two runs to take the lead and force the Cats to stare into the eyes of a 14th loss in 18 games.
Junior catcher Micheal Thomas promptly stepped up and drilled a 0-1 pitch into the Lexington night to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Junior shortstop Matt Reida then singled before moving to second base thanks to freshman designated hitter Zack Storm’s sacrifice bunt.
Two batters later, sophomore first baseman A.J. Reed singled to score Reida and put the Cats back in front.
UK head coach said he didn’t feel any wind escape from the Cats’ sails after the Hoosiers took the lead thanks to Thomas’ timely response.
“Micheal came up and ran that ball out of the yard and got everybody excited,” Henderson said. “Now you’re tied and … you’ve got the right part of the lineup coming up and you get on base, and then A.J. came through.
It was Reed’s second RBI of the game after he had earlier homered in the third inning.
Freshman right-fielder Kyle Barrett extended his hitting streak to 15 games in the top of the first with a single through the right side.
Two wild pitches and a throwing error later, Barrett crossed home plate to put the Cats up, 1-0.
Senior pitcher Jerad Grundy kept the Hoosiers (38-12, 15-6 Big Ten) scoreless through three innings, despite three fielding errors from the home team.
Indiana sophomore catcher Chad Clark tried to steal home in the top of the third but was tagged out at home plate by the Cats’ hurler.
UK moved two runs clear the bottom of the third inning when Reed sent a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left center.
The shot was his 13th home run of the year, the most by any UK player in one season since 2008.
“I knew the wind was kind of pushing that way so I was working that way in BP,” Reed said. “I barreled it pretty well so I had a pretty good idea it was gonna go.”
Barrett climbed the wall in right center with two outs in the top of the sixth in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent Indiana junior third baseman Dustin DeMuth hitting his sixth home run of 2013 and making it a 2-1 game.
Grundy earned a ground-ball out to end the inning before exiting the game after limiting the Hoosiers to one run on four hits in six innings of work.
The Cats’ fourth error of the game helped Indiana station runners on second and third with no outs in the top of the seventh.
Indiana sophomore pinch-hitter Ricky Alfonso took advantage of the situation by hitting a 2-RBI single to give the Hoosiers a 3-2 lead.
Thomas’ homer and Reed’s RBI put the Cats back in front in the home half of the inning, before sophomore pitcher Chandler Shepherd sent the visitors down in order in the eighth.
UK (29-22, 10-17 SEC) restored a 2-run advantage in the bottom of the eighth when Reida singled score sophomore center fielder Austin Cousino, who had moments before stolen second base.
Junior closer Trevor Gott entered the game to blank the Hoosiers in the top of the ninth for his school-record 23rd career save, securing victory in the Cats’ final home game of 2013.