LEXINGTON, Ky. – First baseman Hunter Gilliam drove in two runs, including the go-ahead run-scoring double in the sixth inning, and relief pitcher Mason Moore closed the game with five shutout innings, as Kentucky defeated Indiana, 4-2, Monday night to win the Lexington Regional of the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament. The game was played at Kentucky Proud Park before a school-record 6,796 fans.
With the game tied at 2-2, UK catcher Devin Burkes opened the bottom of the sixth inning with a double down the left field line. One out later, Gilliam also doubled down the left field line to break the tie. After a pitching change, leftfielder Ryan Waldschmidt doubled to rightcenter, scoring Gilliam to notch what became the final score of the game.
Meanwhile, Moore entered in the fifth inning and blanked the Hoosiers the rest of the way. He allowed four singles, struck out five and walked one, earning the victory to improve to 4-1 on the season. Moore turned in an incredible performance in the regional, as he also threw five shutout innings in relief to win the Friday opener against Ball State.
Indiana opened the game by with a single by shortstop Phillip Glasser and a run-scoring double by Bobby Whalen but UK starting pitcher Darren Williams settled down and got out of the inning. Kentucky responded in the bottom of the first with a single by centerfielder Jackson Gray and walks to third baseman Jase Felker and catcher Devin Burkes to load the bases. Run-scoring sacrifice flies from second baseman Emilien Pitre and Gilliam gave UK a 2-1 lead.
Indiana tied the game in the top of the second. The Hoosiers loaded the bases with no outs but UK allowed to only one run, an RBI groundout by Glasser that scored leftfielder Hunter Jessee.
UK’s ability to hold Indiana to two runs in the early innings proved decisive. Williams allowed the first two batters to reach base in the first inning and the first three batters reached in the second inning, but he maneuvered out of the trouble with only one run scoring each time. Williams also wiggled off the hook in the third inning, as a leadoff double and an error put a runner on third base with no outs, but a strikeout, foulout and lineout bailed him out of trouble again.
Indiana, the Big 12 Conference regular-season tri-champion, ends the season with a 43-20 record. Glasser had three of IU’s 10 hits and Whalen and Jessee had two hits each. Starting pitcher Ty Bothwell received the loss and finishes the season with a 4-3 record.
Kentucky won the regional the hard way. After losing to Indiana on Saturday, the Wildcats came out of the losers bracket to defeat West Virginia and Indiana on Sunday, then beat the Hoosiers again Monday. Kentucky, now 40-19 on the season, advances to a Super Regional in Baton Rouge against No. 5 national seed LSU, which swept its home regional this weekend. The Super Regional is best two-of-three format and will begin Friday or Saturday.
NCAA BASEBALL LEXINGTON ALL-REGION TEAM
Catcher: Devin Burkes, Kentucky (Most Outstanding Player)
First Baseman: Hunter Gilliam, Kentucky
Second Baseman: JJ Wetherholt, WVU
Shortstop: Phillip Glasser, Indiana
Third Baseman: Jase Felker, Kentucky
Left Fielder: Ryan Waldschmidt, Kentucky
Center Fielder: Bobby Whalen, Indiana
Right Fielder: Nolan McCarthy, Kentucky
Designated Hitter: Carter Mathison, Indiana
Pitcher: Austin Strickland, Kentucky
Pitcher: Mason Moore, Kentucky