Matt Milburn Pitches Wofford to 5-4 Season-Opening Win
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Preseason Southern Conference Pitcher of the Year Matt Milburn turned in a strong start to lift Wofford to a 5-4 win over No. 25 Kentucky in the 2016 season opener, on Friday evening at Russell C. King Field.
Kentucky (0-1) opened up the game with a two-run lead in the second inning, before Wofford scored two runs in each the third and fourth, adding a homer in the fifth inning. UK got a two-run homer from junior centerfielder Storm Wilson to cut into the lead in the seventh.
The Terriers, who set a school record with 39 wins last year, then finished off the win in the ninth to snap UK’s streak of four consecutive season-opening wins.
The Wildcats were led at the plate by a two-hit game from Luke Becker and JaVon Shelby, with both players adding a walk. UK also got hits from Wilson, Evan White, Gunnar McNeill and Riley Mahan.
UK starter Zack Brown (0-1) worked 3.2 innings, allowing nine hits and four runs, not issuing a walk and striking out three. He was relieved in the fourth inning with a runner on first by senior Zach Strecker, who escaped the jam. Strecker worked 3.1 innings, allowing three hits and one run, walking two and striking out five. Logan Salow took over in the eighth with a runner on first and no outs. Salow worked out of the jam with three outs and a punch out.
Milburn (1-0) – who pitched in the Cape Cod League this season after a 10-win 2015 – fanned 10 over six innings, allowing just one earned run on six hits, walking one. He didn’t face a three-ball count until the sixth inning, throwing 89 pitches, with 59 going for strikes. Jordan Accetta was the first arm in relief, starting the seventh inning. Accetta got two outs but allowed two runs. Spencer Kulman then worked 1.1 innings, striking out one. Closer Will Stillman, who had 15 saves and 50 strikeouts in 29.1 innings in 2015, worked the ninth for the save.
Kentucky will return to action on Saturday, playing George Mason at noon at USC Upstate. The game will be broadcast live on the UK Sports Radio Network, with Dick Gabriel voicing the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on 1580-AM or online at UKathletics.com.
The Wildcats took the lead in the top of the second inning, starting with Shelby’s double off the top of the wall in leftfield. Mahan then beat out a bunt single to put runners on the corners and Dorian Hairston grounded into a double play to score Shelby. After Marcus Carson reached first on a bad throw on a dropped third strike, Becker lofted a single into the left-centerfield gap, putting runners on the corner with two outs. With Becker executing a delayed steal, Carson slide into the plate for the second run, before Becker was tagged out.
Wofford (1-0) evened up the game in the bottom of the third inning, getting four consecutive one-out singles. Alec Paradowski started the rally with a single up the middle, with Max McDougald following with a single through the left side and Kody Ruedisill singling down the leftfield line to score Paradowski. Brett Hash then singled up the middle, just out of the reach of Mahan’s sliding glove, scoring McDougald.
The Terriers rallied in the fourth inning, as Demetrius Jennings singled with one out, taking second on an error. After the second out, Paradowski ripped a RBI double into left-centerfield. McDougald then singled through the right side, scoring Jennings for a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Wofford got a solo homer from Mack Nathanson to stretch its lead to 5-2.
Kentucky cut into the Wofford lead in the seventh inning, starting with a one-out walk from Becker. After the second out, Wilson smashed a line-drive blast over the rightfield fence, making it 5-4.