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June 1, 2012After a marathon game, the Kentucky baseball team has its back against the wall.
Kent State defeated UK 7-6 in 21 innings in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament's Gary (Ind.) Regional.
Alex Miklos' RBI triple against UK's A.J. Reed, who threw nine innings of relief after playing 12 innings as first baseman and designated hitter, won it for the Golden Flashes in the 21st.
UK threatened in the bottom of the inning, but Thomas McCarthy struck out swinging with runners on second and third.
The game, the second-longest in NCAA Tournament history, started at 4 p.m. EDT and finished at 10:38.
"That might not have been the longest game in college baseball history, but it was certainly the best baseball game in college baseball history," Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said. "There were so many twists and turns. The game was just unbelievable."
Second-seeded UK (43-17) will now play an elimination game at 4 p.m. EDT Saturday against fourth-seeded Valparaiso and must win four straight games to advance to the super-regional.
Kent State (42-16) will play at 8 p.m. EDT against top seed Purdue, which beat Valpo 7-2 in a game that finished at 1:50 EDT (12:50 a.m. locally) because it was forced to start so late.
It was a drama-filled game that lasted more than two games.
UK, trailing 5-4, forced extra innings on a ninth-inning single by Luke Maile that scored Austin Cousino.
The teams battled but stayed scoreless until trading runs in the 18th inning.
A double by UK catcher Michael Williams drove in Paul McConkey to tie it at 6, and the Cats missed a chance to win it on the same play when Reed, trying to score from first base, was thrown out at home plate.
UK blew a one-out, bases-loaded chance to win it in the 20th when J.T. Riddle, who was 0 for 9 on the night, grounded into a 1-2-3 double play.
The game took its toll on UK's pitching staff.
Starter Taylor Rogers went only 3.2 innings, allowing four runs.
UK's regular closer, Trevor Gott, pitched a season-high four innings - all scoreless.
Reed, only a part-time pitcher, then threw a career-long nine innings, allowing two runs and striking out eight.
UK's Zac Zellers was 5 for 7 and walked twice.
Kent's George Robers was 5 for 10 with
Kentucky left 23 runners on bases. Kent State stranded 20.
"It was a great game for the fans, two tremendous efforts out of the bullpen," Kentucky coach Gary Henderson said. "Both sides pitched extremely well after the fourth inning. Forty-runners left on base, it was a very unique game."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.