Kentucky and Louisville have grown accustomed to ranked matchups on the hardwood over the years, but Tuesday marked the first Top 10 meeting between the Wildcats and Cardinals on the baseball diamond.
It was worth the wait.
Kyle Barrett's sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th inning drove home J.T. Riddle with the go-ahead run, and UK closer Trevor Gott recorded three quick outs as the Wildcats claimed a thrilling 5-4 win over the Cardinals in front of a record crowd of 4,733 at UofL's Jim Patterson Stadium.
"It feels good," said UK head coach Gary Henderson, who improved to 5-4 in his career vs. Louisville. "It's always good to win. Glad to win a really good ballgame. Fans got their money's worth. A run scored off of both big-time closers. It was a great game, a lot of big plays made. It was a tight game the entire way. It was fun."
No. 7 Kentucky (22-6) jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first on A.J. Reed's two-run homer. No. 9 Louisville (22-6) responded with a run in the first and two more in the third to take a 3-2 advantage.
It remained that way until the sixth when UK's Max Kuhn homered to tie the game at 3.
The Cats surged ahead 4-3 in the ninth after a hit batter, a wild pitch and a throwing error on an infield single plated the go-ahead run. But Louisville tied the game in its half of the ninth on an equally-unusual sequence of events that included an infield single and throwing error.
Riddle led off the top of the 10th with a bunt that was mishandled by the Louisville pitcher Burdi. A Kuhn sacrifice moved him to second and a wild pitch advanced him to third. Barrett, a freshman, delivered the game-winning Sac-fly to center.
Kentucky freshman right-handed starter Kyle Cody worked a career-long 6.1 innings, allowing four hits and three runs – two earned – walking one and striking out four.
"This is the most people I've ever pitched in front of before," Cody said. "Coming from a small town, I've never been to a stadium this big before. I had to calm myself down before the game. The main thing when I was on the mound: I had to breathe. That was the biggest thing. When you start getting base runners on, you just gotta breathe and relax and throw the ball where you want it."
"Sure he (grew up)," Henderson said about Cody's development in his biggest start of the year. "It was a full house here against a really good club. An absolute disaster there at the beginning of the third inning and we just flat out handed them two runs. I was really interested in keeping him in the game at the point. I wanted to get him through that. Fortunately, he was able to get past it, found his rhythm and was really pretty impressive in the fourth, fifth and sixth."
Lefty Ryne Combs took over for Cody with one out in the seventh and the go-ahead runner at second base, getting a groundout to bring in Chandler Shepherd with two outs. Shepherd got the out to escape the jam and worked 1.1 innings of one-hit, scoreless relief. Gott (4-0) picked up the win with two innings in relief, his save chance was blown on an unearned run in the ninth.
Louisville starter Kyle Funkhouser worked into the third inning, allowing one hit, walking three and surrendering two runs. The hard-throwing Burdi (1-1) took the loss, allowing one unearned run in 1.1 innings of relief.
UK will return to action on Friday, traveling to No. 2 LSU for a three-game series at Alex Box Stadium.
Cats top Cards in Top-10 clash
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