LEXINGTON, Ky. - Top-seeded Kentucky's late rally came up just short in a 5-4 loss to No. 3 seed NC State in front of a Cliff Hagan Stadium record crowd of 4,742 on Saturday night. UK will face Indiana in an elimination game for the Lexington Regional on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
The Cats (40-21) scored two runs over the final three innings, including a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning from junior first baseman Evan White, but couldn't overcome the Wolfpack's three-run fifth inning that included a two-run triple by Evan Mendoza that sneaked past the centerfielder.
For the second game in as many days the Cats' offense was able to work counts and pile up baserunners but could not find a hole to bring them home, leaving 10 men on base. The Cats chased NC State starter Michael Bienlien four batters into the contest but lefty Sean Adler danced in and out of trouble while throwing 122 pitches in relief to get the win. Austin Staley yielded an opposite field home run to White in the ninth but the Cats couldn't get the tying run on base after that.
NC State (36-23) had an early answer for UK's run in the top of the first, hitting back-to-back home runs to lead off the bottom half of the inning. The Wolfpack extended their lead in the fifth inning after a two-out walk, triple, and single from the lower half of the batting order.
UK junior lefty Zach Logue came on in relief of starter Justin Lewis in the sixth inning and struck out four, holding the Wolfpack at five runs and giving the Cats a chance to make a run at a win that would have vaulted them into Sunday night's regional final. If they are to advance to the Super Regional the Cats must beat Indiana and NC State on Sunday and the Wolfpack again on Monday.
SCORING Top 1st - Tristan Pompey singled to CF and advanced to second base on a fielding error by the centerfielder. Zach Reks walked and moved to second on a double steal. Luke Becker walked, and Riley Mahan had a SAC fly, scoring Pompey. UK 1, NC State 0.
Bot 2nd - Stephen Pitarra and Josh McLain hit back-to-back home runs. NC State 2, UK 1.
Top 3rd - Pompey led off with a home run to LCF. UK 2, NC State 2.
Bot 5th - Joe Dunand singled, and Will Wilson walked. Evan Mendoza tripled to CF, scoring Dunand and Wilson. Andy Cosgrove singled, which plated Mendoza. NC State 5, UK 2.
Top 7th - Evan White walked. Kole Cottam stepped in to pinch hit for Luke Becker and singled to RCF, moving White to third base. Mahan singled to CF, scoring White. NC State 5, UK 3.
Top 9th - White homered to RCF. NC State 5, UK 4.
ON DECK Kentucky will face Indiana at 1 p.m. on Sunday in an elimination game. The game can be heard on 630 AM and UKathletics.com and is currently scheduled to be aired on ESPN3.