WKU beats Cats in 18-inning marathon

Zach Strecker

Kentucky's struggles on the diamond continued Tuesday in heartbreaking fashion, dropping a 3-2 decision to Western Kentucky in an 18-inning marathon game.

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- Trevor Lowe pulled a line drive just inside the foul pole and over the leftfield fence at the strike of midnight Tuesday to give Western Kentucky a 3-2 win over Kentucky in an 18-inning marathon.

It marked the longest game played in college baseball this season as a crowd of 3,571 watched at Bowling Green Ballpark.

Kentucky and Western battled in a pitchers duel throughout the game. The Hilltoppers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third before the Cats matched it with an Austin Cousino solo home run in the sixth. UK went up 2-1 in the 13th with the help of a three-base error, but returned the favor in the bottom of the inning with an error of its own to help WKU tie the game at 2-2.

The 14th inning featured some Houdini-caliber relief work by UK's Zach Strecker, who worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation to extend the game to the 15th. Strecker went on to work scoreless innings in the 15th, 16th and 17th innings as well before Lowe's game-winning homer.

Kentucky had a golden opportunity to win the game in the 17th when Matt Reida tripled to lead off the frame, but WKU somehow escaped the jam much like the Cats had in the 14th.

It was the second time in two years that UK found itself locked in one of college baseball's longest games. The Cats played a 21-inning game in the opener of the 2012 NCAA Tournament in Gary, Ind., the longest game in SEC history.

Tuesday's game lasted five hours and 57 minutes and saw a total of 33 runners stranded by both teams.

Kentucky (24-16) saw its offense continue to struggle in losing for the 10th time in its last 12 games. The Cats managed only eight hits on the night, wasting a strong start by freshman right-hander Kyle Cody, who allowed only one run on four hits over six innings.

Strecker (1-1) took the hard-luck loss, although he was almost heroic with four innings of four-hit relief work. He struck out five Hilltoppers.

Brennan Pearson (2-0) picked up the win for WKU, striking out four Cats and allowing only a walk. The Hilltoppers improved to 22-19 on the season.

UK returns to action on Thursday, traveling to No. 16 Ole Miss for a three-game series starting at 7:30 p.m. ET in a national telecast on ESPNU.

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