Unearned runs give Western 6-3 win over UK baseball


The UK Baseball team plays Bowling Green at Cliff Hagan Field on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010. Photo by Adam Wolffbrandt

The in-state rival had all the answers.

UK (17-9) took multiple leads against No. 19 Western Kentucky (21-5) but couldn’t stave off the Hilltoppers from leaving Lexington with a 6-3 win.

WKU scored early and often, plating at least a run against each of UK’s first four pitchers on the mound.

UK twice took the lead early in the game, only to see WKU come up with an answer and tie the game in the very next inning.  UK runs in the second and fourth innings were quickly washed out by the Hilltoppers’ quick replies.

“They came back, that’s a sign of a good club,” UK head coach Gary Henderson.  “Somebody scores, you come right back and score, that’s the sign of a good club.”

In the fifth inning, UK again took the lead.  In the top of the sixth, WKU not only predictably tied up the game, but they grabbed the lead for good.  With freshman Jordan Cooper on the mound for the Cats, the 7-8-9 hitters for WKU all reached base.  The Hilltoppers’ leadoff hitter, Matt Payton, then doubled home two runs.

“The key to the inning was walking eight (the eighth batter) and hitting nine,” Henderson said.  “That gave them two free baserunners, then Matt came up and hit the ball in the gap.”

In the top of the seventh, the Hilltoppers sprinkled some insurance runs on.  A dropped pop fly gave WKU an extra out to capitalize on.  Again it was Payton who singled home an extra run to put WKU on top 6-3.

UK committed two errors, and walks and hit batters gave WKU additional free pases to the basepaths that led to Hilltopper runs.  Half of WKU’s six runs were unearned.

“The error in the seventh inning, that just extended the lead and turned it from a one-run to a three-run ballgame,” Henderson said.  “We gave them some freebies.”

Gunner Glad, making his second start of the season at third base, paced UK’s offense in the early going.  He put the Cats on the scoreboard with a solo home run in the second inning, then drove home a run with a groundout in the fifth inning.

“I feel confident right now,” Glad said.  “I’ve been working in the cages, and that helps now.  I’ve made some adjustments at the plate, and I’m seeing the ball a lot better.”

After that, though, the Cats’ bats went quiet, remaining scoreless the rest of the way.

“We left another eight guys on base,” Henderson said.  “We have to drive some guys in.