UK Baseball

Cats limit high-flying Cards to 4 hits, win 5-0

Two days earlier, the Kentucky Wildcats were suffering from an excruciating Southeastern Conference road loss to Arkansas, 17-16, on a two-out, two-strike walk-off grand slam.

Tuesday, though, all was right in the Wildcats' world.

Louisville, the Big East leader and ranked as high as seventh in the country, came to Cliff Hagan Stadium. The Cardinals came in hitting .328.

And Kentucky put on a show for a season-high crowd of 3,819, blanking Louisville 5-0.

Jordan Cooper, Mike Kacz marek and Nick Kennedy combined on a four-hitter and the first shutout in the series since UK won 6-0 in 1989.

Kaczmarek (1-0) retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced.

"I was really proud of him," UK Coach Gary Henderson said. "I didn't pitch him early in the year. He didn't deserve to pitch. And he earned it — he earned his opportunities, and he's done better and better as the season's gone along."

All a matter of mind, the pitcher said.

"I just made up my mind that I was going to come in with a different mentality," Kaczmarek said. "Kind of angry, but still under control and loose, and that's helped me a lot."

The pitchers got plenty of help up the middle with outstanding defensive plays by center fielder Keenan Wiley, second baseman Chris Bisson, catcher Marcus Nidiffer and, especially, shortstop Taylor Black.

An error, a walk and a single loaded the bases with one out in the first for U of L's Phil Wunderlich, a .345 hitter who has 10 home runs. Cooper came out unscathed with Bisson and Black combining on a 4-6-3 double play.

"When you have an opportunity to score like that and you don't score, the momentum swings," said Dan McDonnell, coach of the Cardinals (23-5). "Kentucky was able to avoid what could have been a big inning."

That was just the start of a hard-luck night for Wunderlich.

Next time up, he hammered the ball to the only place in right field where it could stay in the park, the top of the 30-foot-high wall where the scoreboard once stood. Instead of a homer, he wound up with a double and was stranded. Wiley helped out that inning by charging in from center to make a diving grab of Stewart Ijames' sinking liner.

Black robbed Wunderlich of hits in the sixth and eighth innings.

In the sixth, Black ranged to the second-base side of the bag to throw out Wunderlich at first.

In the eighth, Black went in the opposite direction, deep in the hole, and made a jump throw that was just in time. As in the sixth inning, first baseman Gunner Glad made a big stretch to complete the play.

UK (19-11) scored its five runs on just six hits. Nidiffer had two of those, including a run-scoring single.

The Wildcats opened the scoring on Wiley's two-out double in the fourth inning. Cory Farris, hit by a pitch, came all the way around from first.

An inning later, Andy Burns walked, advanced on a wild pitch, then scored on Chad Wright's opposite-field single to left.

Wright later scored when Glad ripped a first-pitch homer over the left-field wall. Glad has homers in five of his last six games, with a season total of seven.

"I struggled early, mostly with recognizing pitches, but I've been working hard in the cages, and I'm starting to get my confidence back," Glad said.

UK's final run came in the sixth. Black knocked a two-out double, then scored on Nidiffer's single.

Other than the first inning and Wunderlich's long double, U of L's only threat came in the third inning. Kyle Grieshaber hit a long fly down the left-field line, ruled foul. McDonnell argued that the ball was fair, to no avail. Grieshaber grounded out on the next pitch.

The teams will meet again, April 28, at Louisville. U of L will be trying for a fourth consecutive split of the season series.

■ UK basketball seniors Ramon Harris, Mark Krebs and Perry Stevenson threw the ceremonial first pitches — simultaneously to three catchers.