Kentucky (11-3) came up just short 9-8 against Ohio (5-5), suffering its third loss of the season, one inning after erasing a seven-run deficit.
In stark contrast to Seth Logue’s seven inning starting pitching performance the day prior, starting pitcher Zack Lee pitched just one inning in the loss, giving up three runs in the top of the first inning on three hits.
“We got to do better,” UK head coach Nick Mingione said regarding his pitching. “We got certain guys but when you look at it as a whole, we just need to do better. We’re not where we want to be.”
Lee’s reliever, freshman Colby Frieda, didn’t fare much better, giving up four more runs in the second inning and being pulled with just one out recorded.
Desperate for someone to stop the bleeding, UK opted to put graduate student Daniel Harper on the mound, with Harper getting out of the inning as well as the third without allowing a hit.
After Harper, freshman Mason Moore took the mound, offering another strong performance, though he still allowed another Bobcat run with a single up the middle to score a walked runner.
Astonishingly, Kentucky was forced to call upon three more pitchers, all combining for 3.1 innings pitched.
Freshman Jackson Nove and sophomore Wyatt Hudepohl answered their calls as expected, preventing the Bobcats from adding to their lead while UK bats got the game back within reach.
Unfortunately for the Cats, intended closer Austin Strickland ultimately lost the game for UK, giving up a single to AJ Rausch that drove home outfielder Spencer Harbert.
Despite the loss, Kentucky’s bats impressed once again, erasing a seven-run deficit after going down 7-0 after two innings.
The first run scored by UK came in the fourth inning from a fielding error that saw runners advance and right fielder Adam Fogel score.
The first signature UK run came in the fifth inning, courtesy of third baseman Chase Estep, who hit a solo home run to right center field, breathing life into the Cats' offense.
The floodgates opened for Kentucky in the seventh inning, with the Cats scoring four runs on Ohio’s Chase Harris.
Ryan Ritter was the first to secure an RBI in the inning, singling to right field to drive home catcher Kirk Liebert.
Jacob Plastiak followed the play with a double that hit the base of the center field wall, driving home both Ritter and center fielder John Thrasher.
Hunter Jump added to the offensive surge with a single up the middle to score Plastiak, before Ohio was able to escape the inning.
The Wildcats continued to battle back in the eighth inning, tying the game at eight with two more runs.
Ritter started the scoring once again, grounding out to shortstop but scoring Daniel Harris IV from third base.
The Wildcats loaded the bases, with Liebert eventually making it back to home plate on a wild pitch for Kentucky’s eighth and final run.
Kentucky had the opportunity to win the game in the ninth, with the tying run reaching base first in the form of a Jump single up the middle.
Graduate student Oraj Anu and Harris recorded back-to-back groundouts, but advanced Jump all the way to third base.
With momentum on his side, Fogel stepped up to bat, looking to claim victory for the Cats.
Unfortunately for him, Ohio’s Rausch recorded an impressive catch over his head in right field, shutting the door on UK and claiming victory for the Bobcats.
“Give that kid a lot of credit,” Mingione said. “The ball was over his head, what an unbelievable play. That’s what it was going to take tonight. Obviously not the result we wanted, but we forced them to make plays, right?”
The loss goes down as the third for Kentucky this season, the second in a single game series in heartbreaking fashion.
Kentucky will look to bounce back from the loss on Friday, March 11, in the first of a three game home-stand against High Point.