In its last tune-up before the start of Southeastern Conference play, Kentucky rallied for just enough hits — and hit batsmen — to remain perfect at home.
First baseman William Campbell hit his first career home run, and the Cats' bullpen held on for an 8-7 win over Indiana Wednesday, their ninth straight victory. Kentucky took the lead for good when Campbell was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning with the bases loaded.
UK (11-2) extended its non-conference home winning streak to a school-record 28 games and will start conference play Friday with a three-game series at No. 4 Louisiana State.
"Once you get close to that first conference weekend, sometimes concentration can be a little bit of a challenge, but I thought the kids hung in there well," said first-year coach Gary Henderson.
Sophomore left-hander Mike Kaczmarek made his first start of the season and gave up two unearned runs in 22⁄3 innings. The Cats used six pitchers in the ball game, none throwing more than three innings.
"That was by design. What you want to do two days before you open up (SEC play) is give everyone a little work," Henderson said.
Campbell's home run in the fourth, over the gap in right-center, put the Cats up 4-2.
"It was 3-1, hitter's count, just looking to drive my pitch the other way, trying to take advantage of the ballpark especially with the shorter field in right-center," Campbell said.
After the Hoosiers tied the game at 4 in the fifth, Indiana starter Matt Bashore hit Campbell with the bases loaded, forcing in a run. A single by freshman third baseman Andy Burns plated two more runs and second baseman Chris Bisson followed with an RBI double, bringing the lead to 8-4.
"We've always talked about, together as a team, just trying to control the box, so I like moving closer to the plate," said the 6-foot-5 junior, who was also hit by a pitch in the third inning. "It was good though; I got an RBI out of it."
The Hoosiers hit four batters and committed four errors in the ball game.
The Cats' bullpen gave up three runs in the eighth inning, but sophomore right-hander Nick Kennedy induced a ground ball from Alex Dickerson with runners on first and third to end the Hoosiers' threat. Braden Kapteyn entered in the ninth and retired Indiana in order for his second save of the season. The 6-foot-4 freshman was also 2-for-5 at the plate as the designated hitter and extended his hitting streak to a team-high nine games.
Freshman third baseman Andy Burns went 2-for-4 at the plate and had two RBI.
Sophomore left-hander Logan Darnell came on in the sixth and pitched two innings to pick up the win.
"This team is a lot different than teams I've been on in the past. We have that fight that you don't see in a lot of teams," Campbell said. "We're really starting to grow together."