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May 9, 2012

Late balk gives Wildcats win against Indiana

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Gary Henderson has spent his life around baseball. Sometimes the game still shows him something new.

It happened on Wednesday, when his Kentucky baseball team beat Indiana 6-5 at Sembower Field on the strength of a 12th-inning balk by the Hoosiers.

"I've seen one on TV, but I've never been a part of anything like that," Henderson said. "That's a first."

With two outs in the top of the 12th and UK second baseman J.T. Riddle on third, the Hoosiers intended to walk Wildcats leadoff hitter Austin Cousino.

But in the blink of an eye, UK (38-11, 15-9 Southeastern Conference) retook the lead on Brian Korte's balk.

"I couldn't tell (he balked)," Riddle said. "I knew I took a couple steps kind hard off (third) like I was going home, just seeing if we could get something off of it. I thought he was going to flinch coming off, but he didn't hesitate when he came up, and the umpire on the first baseline called it for us."

Riddle led the Cats with three hits and scored two runs.

UK allowed a hit in the bottom of the inning but held on to defeat IU (24-25) for the second straight season. The Cats' last loss to the Hoosiers came in extra innings in Bloomington in 2010.

Henderson joked that the win gave the Cats a "big-time" winning streak. UK had not won back-to-back games since defeating Louisiana State on April 21 and 22.

But with two crucial Southeastern Conference series remaining in the regular season, Henderson realizes any momentum is good momentum.

"All you can do is try to build on it, and we will," Henderson said. "We are really happy to get it and look forward to carrying it through the Alabama series."

Henderson was a few words away from missing Wednesday's wild finish.

In the sixth inning, Brian Adams hit an apparent double into left-center, scoring two runs and tying the game. But moments later IU threw the ball to an empty first base, where umpire Daniel Jimenez signaled out.

Jimenez told Henderson that Adams failed to touch first base. Adams told UK spokesman Brent Ingram that he tripped over his on feet, falling on first, before running to second.

Henderson passionately argued the call and still had words for Jimenez after he made his way back to the dugout.

Because he was ruled out, Adams - an outfielder who also plays wide receiver on the UK football team - finished the game hitless despite reaching base two other times. He finished with two RBI in his second start of the season.

"I'm really happy, really pleased," Henderson said. "I'm happy for Adams, happy for this club. He has started two games in a row, and I'm pleased with his approach the last two games."

UK's 38th win is the fourth-most in program history, and the Wildcats had to earn it. Kentucky scored go-ahead runs in the 11th and 12th before closing the deal, beating an IU team that had won six of its past seven games.

Still, the same bugaboos linger. UK started the season 29-2 but moved to 9-9 in its last 18 games with the IU win. Inconsistent pitching and hitting are Henderson's main concerns.

Starter Chandler Shepherd only lasted two innings, giving up five hit and three runs, one earned.

A.J. Reed pitched 5 1/3 innings in relief, allowing four hits and one unearned run. From the fifth to the eighth inning Reed had retired twelve straight batters.

"I would have liked a better outing from (starter) Chandler (Sheperd)," Henderson said. "We will run him out again. I don't know what the role will be or when, but we're not done pitching him."


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