Story by Kelly Diesel, Contributing writer
On Tuesday, March 14, the Murray State baseball team traveled to Lexington, Kentucky, to take on the University of Kentucky in an OVC v. SEC showdown.
The Wildcats came away with the win in a 9-7 game that lasted three and a half hours. The game was rescheduled to 4 p.m. instead of the original start time of 6 p.m. because of freezing temperatures and the possibility of snow.
Racers Head Coach Kevin Moulder said he wanted to use a lot of pitchers in Tuesday’s game.
“That was kind of the plan going into the game,” Moulder said. “We wanted to get some guys some work and not burn anyone for this weekend’s series against Austin Peay.”
The Racers got on the board in the top of the first inning with senior catcher Tyler Lawrence hitting a triple to score senior outfielder Adam Bauer and junior infielder Kipp Moore. Later in the inning, with the bases loaded, freshman infielder Davis Sims was hit by a pitch to walk in Lawrence and put the Racers on top 3-0.
Murray State used six pitchers in their game on Tuesday, with four of the six pitchers giving up runs to the Wildcats. Freshman pitcher Trevor McMurray got the start for the Racers and only pitched the first inning. McMurray faced just seven batters, giving up three runs on two hits, striking out two and walking two as well.
Kentucky responded in the bottom of the first with junior infielder Riley Mahan hitting a double to left center fielder scoring two runs. The Wildcats’ sophomore catcher, Kole Cottam, grounded out to second base scoring junior infielder Luke Becker and tying the game at 3-3.
In the top of the fourth inning, junior outfielder Brandon Gutzler hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score senior outfielder Aaron Bence and give the Racers a 4-3 lead. The Wildcats responded again in the bottom of the fourth with sophomore outfielder Tristan Pompey hitting a ground-rule-double and scoring two runs. Later in the inning, Becker reached first on an error which also scored Pompey, giving Kentucky a 6-4 lead.
The Wildcats scored again in the bottom of the fifth inning with a solo home run from senior infielder Connor Heady. Murray State fought back in the top of the sixth inning with a three-run home run from Gutzler, his fifth of the year, and tying the game at 7-7.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Racers’ senior pitcher, John Lollar, gave up a two-run double to junior infielder Tyler Marshall giving the Wildcats a 9-7 lead, which they held until the end of the game.
Moulder said he was proud of the way Murray State competed against Kentucky.
“We took the 3-0 lead, then fell behind, but battled back and tied it 7-7,” Moulder said. We put a good foot forward playing a team like Kentucky on national television.”
Murray State will play Austin Peay next in a three-game series starting at 4 p.m. on Friday, March 17 at Reagan Field in Murray.
Moulder said he knows how important this weekend series with APSU is to the Racers.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us,” Moulder said. “It’s a monster series for us and we’re excited about being at home. It’s a fun rivalry in any sport with Austin Peay whether it’s baseball, basketball or soccer. Really I don’t care what sport it is, when we play Austin Peay it’s a big deal.”