UK baseball splits two games in Aggie Classic

Cats top Pepperdine; fall to Washington State...

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The Kentucky baseball team split two games at the Aggie Baseball Classic here Saturday.

The Wildcats (3-3) defeated Pepperdine, 5-4, in their first game before suffering a 7-3 extra-inning setback to Washington State to end second-round play at Texas A&M's C.E "Pat" Olsen Field.

"Scott Wade really pitched an outstanding game against Pepperdine," Kentucky coach Keith Madison said. "He had great command today and Cory Hahn came in and did exactly what we needed him to do to pick up the win in relief."

Junior right-hander Scott Wade got the starting nod against the Waves (6-7), allowing four runs (two earned) in five complete innings of work. After Pepperdine doubled twice in the top of the second to go up 1-0, the Cats provided Wade with run support, slapping back-to-back home runs by senior first baseman Robert Newton and junior center fielder Seth Morris in their half of the second inning.

The Waves had a shot at Wade again in the fifth when Chris Kelly and Ed Montague ripped a doubles off the Kingsport, Tenn. native, putting Waves at first and third with three outs to give. But Wade kept his composure, sitting down catcher Nelson Caraballo swinging on three strikes. Shortstop Patrick Rooney followed up with hard liner straight to UK second baseman Brad Pickrell who flipped the ball to Robert Newton at first, doubling up Montague who was darting toward second on contact.

Senior catcher Caleb Brock collected two doubles on the day, with the second two-bagger starting UK's two-run fifth inning. Spencer Graeter knocked in Brock and Pickrell singled to bring in Graeter, increasing the Cats' lead to 4-1.

Pepperdine answered with three in the sixth to tie the game, but the Cats were not to be denied in their portion of the seventh. After left fielder Brent Stephens reached on a fielders choice, Graeter came up big with a single up the middle, advancing Stephens to third. With two down and runners on first and third, Madison called for a double steal. Caraballo threw to second, but Graeter stopped his race to the bag to force a run down, opening the door for Stephens to dart home and score the winning run on a head-first slide to home plate.

"We missed some opportunities to score in the inning and I thought we had to go to a double steal to get that winning run home," Madison said. "I was surprised Pepperdine's catcher threw down to second. That allowed Spencer (Graeter) to get into a rundown and give Brent (Stephens) the chance to get home. They both did a great job on the bases."

Cory Hahn, providing relief duties for Wade in the sixth, pitched two innings to get his first win of the season. Kea Kometani also entered in the sixth and garnered the loss for PU.

The morning victory over Pepperdine placed the Wildcats seven innings away from earning Madison his 700th win as their skipper with the Cougars of Washington State standing in their way of the impressive milestone. Freshman Craig Snipp started his first game as a Wildcat, allowing three runs in four innings while walking two and striking out six.

UK fell behind when a left-center blast by shortstop Derek Bruce left the park in a hurry to give WSU a two-run cushion. The Cougars put another run on Snipp in the fourth, but the Cats proved their resilience with a game-tying three-run fourth, highlighted by a two-run Graeter double.

Notched at three runs apiece, the Cats pounced on WSU Eddie Bonine in the bottom of the seventh. Singles by Newton and senior Spencer Preston gave UK runners at first and second with nobody down, but Eddie Bonine, who went the distance for WSU, silenced the Cats' roar when a Seth Morris sacrifice bunt attempt failed and Newton was gunned down at third. Sophomore Caleb Stewart came to the plate and grounded into a double play to end the inning.

WSU capitalized in extra innings. Hahn, making his second appearance of the day, came in to relieve Mark Galvin and allowed four Cougars to cross home plate in the top of the eighth. Freshman Mike Ferris' double in the bottom of the eighth, his first collegiate hit, was all UK could muster, ending its hopes of attaining 700 for their head coach.

"It was a tough loss for us because our guys showed some real spirit and competitiveness to fight back and tie the game," Madison said. "We didn't execute properly when we had the chance to do so and it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth when you have the chance to win the game and you don't get it done."

Madison will try for his 700th victory on Sunday, Feb. 24 when he and his Wildcats face Pepperdine at 1 p.m. ET in day three of the Aggie Baseball Classic. Junior right-hander Rob Corrado is the projected starter for UK.

Pepperdine   010     003     0 - 4 7 1
Kentucky       020     020     1 - 5 9 1
Win: Hahn (1-1)
Loss: Kometani (0-1)
Time: 2:20

Washington State  020     100     04 - 7 8 0
Kentucky                 000     300     00 - 3 8 3

Win: Bonine (2-1)
Loss: Hahn (1-2)
Time: 2:41

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