UK opens NCAAs with marathon loss

By David Schuh

The UK baseball team lost 7-6 to Kent State in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Gary, Ind.

Most teams only play one game in the opening round of the NCAAs. UK played 21 innings, or the equivalent of almost two and a half games – in just over six and a half hours.

After falling down 4-2 after four innings, the Cats fought back to tie the game in the seventh and again the ninth,  sending the game to extra innings.

From there, the bullpens took over.

UK freshman A.J. Reed pitched nine innings of relief, by far his longest outing of the season. Although he only allowed two earned runs on seven hits, that was enough to earn the loss.

Neither team scored for eight innings. With an RBI double in the top of the 18th inning, Kent State took a 6-5 lead. But senior Michael Williams answered with a run-scoring double of his own to extend the game.

With two outs in the 21st inning, the Golden Flashes got an RBI triple from freshman Alex Milkos to score the go-ahead run. UK senior Thomas McCarthy had a chance to tie it with two runners on and two outs in the bottom of the 21st, but he struck out to end the game.

The game lasted six hours and 37 minutes. The 21 innings made it the longest game ever involving an SEC team, surpassing a 1972 game between Auburn and Florida that lasted 20.

Not only was the loss debilitating from a stamina point of view, it will also make it very tough for the Cats to win the Gary, Ind. Regional and advance. They will now have to win four straight games in the double elimination format.

UK will return to action on Saturday at 4 p.m. against the Purdue/Valparaiso loser, which begins Friday night at 11:40 p.m.