College Sports

Weather halts regional with UK trailing Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Lightning forced a delay before the rain arrived.

And when it rained, it poured at Ray Fisher Stadium.

So Kentucky's opening game of the NCAA Baseball Regional was stopped in the bottom of the sixth inning, with Michigan leading the Wildcats 5-1.

Officials waited an hour and six minutes before suspending play at 9:46 p.m.

The game will resume Saturday at 11 a.m., with Michigan runners on first and second, two outs in the bottom of the sixth and a 3-1 count on Adam Abraham.

The loser will come back at 2 p.m. to face fourth-seeded Eastern Michigan, a 13-7 loser to No. 1 Arizona, in an elimination game.

The winner will play at 7 p.m. against Arizona.

UK (42-17) is the No. 3 seed. Michigan (45-12) is No. 2.

”It's nice to go to bed at night having a lead,“ Michigan Coach Rich Maloney said. ”But we don't get a "W' so it is what it is.“

Neither Maloney nor UK Coach John Cohen would say who will pitch Saturday.

All of Friday's scoring came in the second inning. After UK scored one, Michigan came back with five.

”I think the guys executed outstandingly,“ Maloney said. ”It was important (to score) after they had scored a run. .... We executed two hit-and-runs, executed a squeeze, turned a double play, got a pickoff. We executed, really, to the nth degree in five innings. But five innings doesn't win a game.“

UK lefty Chris Rusin, who grew up 15 minutes away from Ann Arbor (Niles, Mich.) had his shortest outing of his career. He left with one out in the second, the bases loaded and trailing 2-0.

Rusin was held out of last week's Southeastern Conference Tournament because of a sore bicep. He threw only 24 pitches Saturday.

”He still has some soreness,“ Cohen said. ”I don't think it's anything serious. I just think he really needed two weeks off, and it's not quite two weeks. I think he just wasn't ready to pitch physically, and that's not his fault or our fault. He's just not there yet.

”He went out and gave it his best shot. But he wasn't even close to what he normally is and we had to get him out of there.“

Jason Christian greeted UK reliever Aaron Lovett with a two-run double, just over the outstretched glove of right fielder Sawyer Carroll.

Leif Mahler's squeeze bunt scored another, making it 5-1 for the Wolverines through two innings.

Rusin's shortest appearance of the season until Friday was 41⁄3 innings against Florida. His shortest ever was a four-inning start against South Carolina last year.

UK opened the scoring in the second but probably felt like it should have been more than one run.

Ryan Wilkes led off with a bunt single and took second on Brian Spear's base hit to right.

Chris Wade bunted the runners to second and third -- his school-record 19th sacrifice of the season.

Tyler Howe singled through the right side to score Wilkes, Spear stopping at third.

Michigan starter Zach Putnam reversed the almost-never-works ”31“ pickoff play, faking to first and throwing to third. Spear, caught leaning, broke for the plate and bowled over Chris Berset, but the catcher held on to the ball. Putnam then caught Marcus Nidiffer looking at a third strike.

Putnam then started Michigan's five-run outburst, walking on four pitches. The Wolverines rapped four hits in the inning and walked twice while batting around.

After getting out of the inning, Lovett didn't surrender a hit until the later at-bat before the storm -- a sharp single by Putnam.

■ UK has outhit Michigan 6-5. UK leadoff man Wiley is the only player with more than one hit, with singles in the first and third innings.

■ With Putnam batting cleanup, Michigan went without a designated hitter. Putnam is a .309 hitter with nine homers who regularly plays in the field when not on the mound.

■ Attendance was 4,082, a stadium record. UK has played in front of five stadium-record crowds this season, five on the road.

■ Rusin, from nearby Canton, Mich., had a vocal contingent of family and friends backing him. Michigan was bolstered by a partisan crowd and the UM pep band -- the first time UK has played in front of a band this season.