LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Senior Chad Oberacker's 4-for-5 performance at the plate in the Golden Eagle's 11-8 loss to the Wildcats of Kentucky gave him 216 all-time hits, putting him first in the Tech record books for total hits in a single career.
Needing only two hits headed into Tuesday's contest to take the top spot, the pre-season Player of the Year out of Erie, PA., surpassed Chad Malone's previous record of 213 career hits in the Golden Eagle's SEC match-up on the road in Kentucky.
The Wildcats held the Golden Eagles scoreless through six, snatching an 8-0 lead headed into the top of the seventh, fueled by strong first and third innings. UK put sophomore starter Tristan Archer in a one-out, bases loaded scenario in the bottom of the first frame after two walks and a sacrifice bunt. Braden Kapteyn's RBI groundout followed by J.T. Riddle's two shot single into right field gave the Wildcats the 3-0 lead after one.
Kentucky struck again in the bottom of the third, this time against right-handed reliever Matt Shepherd, who took the hill in the second inning. Shepherd went one-two-three in the second, but surrendered a lead-off double in the bottom of the third, plunked Thomas McCarthy to put two on, and loaded the bases on a bunt-single by Kapteyn.
Riddle's sacrifice fly put UK on top, 4-0, but Luke Maile's long-ball over the center field wall busted the seams of the game, working for three more runs to give the Wildcats the 7-0 lead. Tech's freshman southpaw Jake McWhirter stranded two on base in the fourth, while junior reliever Park left two on in the fifth before UK put up another run in the bottom of the sixth on a double by Taylor Black followed by a one-out single by Kapteyn for the 8-0 lead.
The Golden Eagles rallied in the top of the seventh, however, notching five runs on five hits off of J Cooper. Casanova Donaldson started off with a one-out single to center field, which Evan Frazier followed with a single of his own. A fielding error loaded the bases for Tech, and an RBI ground-out set the score at 8-1 in favor of UK. With two outs, Austin Wulf singled for another RBI, while Zephan Guyear and Oberacker combined with back-to-back doubles for three more runs, putting the score at 8-5 headed into the bottom of the frame.
Kentucky stretched the lead in the bottom of the seventh as Garrett Baugh gave up two more runs off of hits by McCarthy and Kapteyn, and recorded their final run of the game in the bottom of the eighth to take an 11-5 lead.
Undaunted, Tech continued their rally in the top of the ninth, but their three-run inning- courtesy of a double by Oberacker, a walk to Ben Burgess, and a homer by Donaldson - fell short of what was needed to force the bottom half and left the final score at 11-8 to Kentucky.
Oberacker's record-breaking night included three singles, two doubles and one stolen base. He's currently batting .287 on the season, slugging .489 with 27 hits, five doubles, a triple and four homers, while his 17 RBIs on the season ranks second on the team.
"I'm definitely excited about having broken the record, it's a huge accomplishment and something that I've been working towards for my entire career," Oberacker said post-game. "I reached one of my goals today, and now I'm just going to keep focusing on making the most of every at-bat so that I can help this team reach the rest of our goals.
"I really appreciate the support that I've gotten from my teammates and coaches all four years that I've been here, because everyone has played a big part in getting me to this point."
In addition to Oberacker's 4-for-5, one RBI effort, Donaldson chipped in with a 3-for-4, three RBI showing, while Frazier went 3-for-5 at the plate. Guyear's solo hit of the game accounted for the team's other multi-RBI performance, as it scored two.
Kentucky was led offensively by Black, who scored four runs on four hits in four at bats, and Kapteyn with a 3-for-5, two RBI effort. Riddle and Maile, who went 2-for-3 and 1-for-2 respectively, each contributed three runs batted in as well.
Archer was tagged for the loss for Tech, having given up the go-ahead run in the first inning, and fell to a record of 3-3 on the season. Corey Littrell improved to 4-1 on the season, pitching through three innings for UK and striking out three. With the win, the Wildcats are now 15-11 on the year.
Tech, with a record of 8-14 after Tuesday's loss, will kick off conference play against OVC rival Jacksonville State this weekend in a three-game series that will commence with a double-header event on Saturday at 1 p.m.