Lexington, Ky. — Tenth-ranked Kentucky scored five runs in the first three innings, and got a pair of home runs from Collin Cowgill to pick up a 7-3 win over the Western Kentucky University baseball team Wednesday evening at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The loss ended a four-game win streak for the Hilltoppers as they fell to 15-11 on the year. UK improved to 23-4.
The Wildcats struck early against WKU starter Matt Hightower with a pair of runs in the first inning. After Ryan Wilkes led off the inning with a single, and one-out single by Brian Spears put runners at first and second. Sawyer Carroll followed with a run-scoring double, and Troy Frazier plated Spear with a sacrifice fly to give Kentucky at 2-0 lead.
The Hilltoppers responded with a run in the third inning when Hightower groundout plated Jeremy Coleman to cut the UK lead to 2-1. However, the Wildcats sent nine men to the plate and scored three runs in the bottom of the inning to extend their lead. Two of those runs proved to be unearned thanks to a WKU error, but a two-run single by Carroll, and a Tyler Wade run-scoring base hit extended the lead to 5-1.
The Toppers got one of those runs back in the top of the fourth when Jake Wells doubled home Wade Gaynor, but Cowgill got that run back with a solo home run in the bottom of the inning to make it a 6-2 game.
Rye Davis relieved Hightower in the fifth, and retired the first six Wildcat batters he faced. However, Cowgill delivered his second home run of the game to lead off the seventh inning, giving Kentucky a five-run lead.
The Hilltoppers got a third run in the eighth inning when Gaynor doubled and scored on a Wells single. However, Brock Baber retired WKU in the ninth to give the Wildcats the 7-3 victory.
WKU outhit the Wildcats 10-8, with Gaynor and Wells collecting two hits each. Wells also drove in a pair. Cowgill had three hits to lead Kentucky, while Carroll finished with two hits and three RBI.
Hightower (3-2) suffered the loss as he allowed four earned runs on seven hits in 4.0 innings of work. He also picked up four strikeouts. Aaron Lovett (1-0) got the win for UK in relief.
The Hilltoppers will return home this weekend as they host Florida International in a three-game Sun Belt Conference series. First pitch of Friday’s series opener is scheduled for 6 p.m. (CDT).