Ninth-Inning Rally Propels Baseball Over Kentucky, 10-8
Feb. 25, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The UIC baseball team scored four times in the top of the ninth inning with two outs, highlighted by a two-run homer off the bat of Jason Ganek, to knock off the Southeastern Conference's Kentucky Wildcats on Friday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium, 10-8.
The Flames (1-4) entered the final frame trailing the Wildcats (2-4), 8-6, but as it had all afternoon, the bottom of the lineup got things rolling for Mike Dee's squad. Seventh-place hitter Joe Betcher was hit by a pitch and the next man up, Harry Kammholz, walked to put two runners on with nobody out. Freshman John Coen entered the game to pinch-run for Kammholz and both he and Betcher each advanced 90 feet on ninth-place-batter Nick Addison's sacrifice bunt. Leadoff man Ryan Shober struck out, but catcher Andy Leonard came up in the clutch with a two-out base hit that scored Betcher and Coen to knot the game at eight with two away in the ninth.
UIC was not done yet, however. On a 1-1 pitch from Kentucky reliever Braden Kapteyn, Ganek belted a two-run blast over the left center field wall to give the Flames their first lead of the game, 10-8, when it mattered most. It was the Mount Prospect, Ill. native's second home run in as many games
Ganek, who doubles as the Flames closer, worked a scoreless two-thirds of the bottom of the ninth to earn his first save of the season.
The comeback started then UIC was trailing 8-2 in the top of the seventh. Newcomer Jon Ryan got things rolling when he tripled down the right field line to lead off the frame. The freshman touched the plate when the next batter, second baseman Matt Serna, grounded out to his counterpart. The bottom of the batting order kept the line moving once again when Betcher reached on an error and scampered to third base on a double by Kammholz. Addison then notched his first RBI of the season with a sac fly to center field to make it 8-4, Kentucky, and turn it over to the top of the lineup.
UK starter Taylor Rogers walked Shober on four pitches and the Wildcats hurler was done for the afternoon.
Leonard rudely greeted reliever Walter Wijas by lacing a two-bagger that scored Kammholz from second and Shober all the way from first for the third and fourth tallies of the frame, making it 8-6, Wildcats, after six-and-a-half.
Leonard finished 3-for-5 with a double and five RBI in the win. Addison collected a pair of hits in his first start of the season, while Ryan also had two hits on the afternoon for the Flames.
UIC starter Joey Begel's day was done after 6.0 IP and it was up to tall right-hander Chris Hoffman (1-0) to keep Kentucky at bay. The Schaumburg, Ill. native worked out of trouble in both the seventh and eighth innings to toss scoreless frames and earn his first career win in a Flames uniform.
Michael Williams carried the load offensively for the Wildcats. The catcher was 3-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI in a losing effort.
The two teams will meet up for the middle game of the series on Saturday at 12 p.m. CST. Charlie Weinberg (0-1, 6.00 ERA) will take the ball for the Flames in game two; he'll be opposed by Kentucky's Alex Meyer (0-1 1.29 ERA). Meyer is the reigning Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week after fanning 13 batters over 7.0 IP in his 2011 debut against Miami (Ohio).