Flynn's Two Homers Lifts Baseball to Comeback Series-Clinching Win
Feb. 25, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After falling behind 5-0 in the first inning, Kentucky used four homers, including two from outfielder Cameron Flynn to rally for a 9-5 win to claim the series over Buffalo, on Saturday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (5-0) was in an early hole, trailing 5-0 entering the bottom of the fourth inning. UK started chipping away at the lead with a run in the third and fourth inning, before exploding for the lead with six-run frame in the sixth.
The Wildcats were paced offensively by the two-homer game from Flynn, a Lexington Henry Clay product and a transfer from Morehead State. The outfielder launched two homers and had three RBI, while UK junior Luke Maile launched his second homer of the year in a 2-for-4, three-RBI outing. Centerfielder Zac Zellers also launched a homer for the second consecutive game, going 3-for-3 off the bench after UK freshman centerfielder Austin Cousino ended his day in the third inning with two hits.
Flynn became the first Kentucky player with two homers in a game since Michael Williams launched two homers in a win over Illinois-Chicago in 2011. Zeller's back-to-back games with a homer marks the first time UK player since Taylor Black homered in consecutive games during wins over Alabama in 2010.
Second baseman J.T. Riddle also recorded two hits for the UK 14-hit attack, drawing a walk and recording an RBI double. Thomas McCarthy extended his reached base safely streak to 18 games and he has now reached safely in 58 of his 59 career UK starts. Lucas Witt notched a single and an RBI to stretch his hitting streak to a career long and club-high 10 games. Freshman A.J. Reed - a day after collecting six RBI in his home debut - added a single and a run scored.
UK starter Jerad Grundy went four innings in his UK home debut, allowing seven hits and five runs, walking two and striking out three. Grundy allowed five runs on five hits in the first inning, before settling down to get through four frames.
"He was wild in the strike zone without a second pitch," UK head coach Gary Henderson said about the first inning. "He didn't have any secondary stuff in the first inning and that is a bad combination for a fastball hitting club. We left him in there long enough to find his rhythm. Obviously if you throw 31 pitches in the first inning it is going to shorten the outing a little bit and it did his. I thought once he got it figured out he found some rhythm, he kept his poise. Overall, a solid outing after the first inning, we got to get that figured out and we will."
Grundy was relieved by Walter Wijas, who came on with runners on base in the fifth and struck out the side to get out of the jam. Wijas (1-0) picked up the win - his fourth career - with three shutout innings, allowing only two hits and striking out a career-high four. UK also used freshman southpaw Sam Mahar in a shutout inning, before Tim Peterson worked for the second consecutive game, striking out the side in the ninth inning.
For the fourth time in UK's first five games, the Wildcats went without an error, with their lone error coming on a pickoff attempt from the mound during UK's win on Friday vs. Buffalo. UK leads the Southeastern Conference in fielding and has yet to commit an error by a position player.
Buffalo (0-2) starter Kevin Hughes went five innings, allowing eight hits and four runs, walking two and striking out three. Corey Paige (0-1) took the loss after allowing five hits and five runs in two frames, walking one and striking out one. Zach Stephens finished off the game with a scoreless eighth inning.
UK returns to action on Sunday, hosting Buffalo in the series finale at 1 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. UK will send sophomore southpaw Corey Littrell (1-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound to face UB senior right-hander Jeff Thompson. The game will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with UK baseball veteran play-by-play announcer Dick Gabriel calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on WGVN 1580-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
Buffalo jumped on Grundy early with two men on base in the first inning, as Jon Mestas walking on four pitches and Tom Murphy singling through the left side. Two wild pitches allowed Mestas to score and during the same at bat Michael Burke lined the pitch over a leaping Riddle, scoring All-America catcher Tom Murphy. After a Tyler Mautner single, Burke moved to third. Dan Scahill followed and lined a double down the rightfield line scoring Burke and moving Mautner to third. Following them was River McWilliams plating Scahill and Mautner with a line drive over the UK shortstop, Matt Reida. Grundy settles down with Jordan Camp striking out to end the inning.
Grundy settled into a grove after that, allowing only one hit over the next three innings.
"I am always going to leave guys in (the game) a little bit longer then probably most if I think they are competing," Henderson said. "I want to send that message to him that he has to figure it out. If the game is in the balance or you have a particularly tough matchup then you have to make that decision on whether you need to get him out and get somebody in. But I felt pretty good that if we could get him through that first inning he would be able to figure out. And I want to send him that message that he has to figure it out and I thought he did. He clearly wasn't nearly as crisp as he was last weekend but that is the nature of baseball. Sometimes you aren't at your best and you have to figure it out. The whole body of work today was positive for him."
Kentucky struck for a run in the fourth when Maile muscled a single into short left. After a Michael Williams was hit-by-pitch and Reed walked, Witt lofted a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Maile from third.
After a combined scoreless fifth by Grundy and reliever Wijas, Zellers doubled on a soft liner and advances to third on a wild pitch. Riddle then quickly brought home Zellers with a double of his own to cut the UB lead to 5-2.
With a scoreless sixth by Wijas, Kentucky's offense erupted. Reed led off with a single into short right centerfield and then Flynn connected on a pitch and sends it into the parking lot behind the right field wall. Buffalo brought in Paige to face Witt, who rocketed a ball right back up the box, ricocheting into the vacated hole at second allowing Witt to reach first. After a failed bunt attempt, Zellers returns to the box and launches the pitch into the protective netting of the scoreboard in leftfield, his second consecutive game with a home run. After a walk by Riddle and McCarthy, Maile brought them all home on a homer to the left of the scoreboard in left center. Williams follows with what appeared to be a back-to-back job, but was robbed by Buffalo centerfielder Matt Pollock.
Wijas shut down the Bulls attack in the top part of the seventh, allowing only one hit. With Kentucky at the plate, Flynn connected again, this time to the opposite field to increase the score to 9-5 with his blast to leftfield.
Mahar came onto pitch the top half of the eight and records a scoreless frame while picking up the strikeout. The dominant performance of the UK bullpen continued in the top of the ninth when Peterson came in and recorded three strikeouts to conclude the ballgame.
GAME NOTES: Cameron Flynn made his first career home start in rightfield ... Zac Zellers notched his first career double ... Flynn hit his first career UK home run and the 17th homer of his career, also hitting 16 during his two-year career at Morehead State ... Lucas Witt extended his career long and team high hitting streak to 10 games ... Zac Zellers hit his second career home run and his second consecutive game with a homer ... Zellers is the first UK player to hit homers in consecutive games since Taylor Black against Alabama ... Thomas McCarthy has now reached base safely in 18 consecutive games and in 58 of his 59 career starts ... Luke Maile launched his second homer of the year and the 14th of his career ... Walter Wijas tied a career high with four strikeouts ... Flynn hit his second homer of the game in the seventh inning, becoming the first UK player to hit two homers in a game since Michael Williams hit two vs. UIC ... Tim Peterson became the first UK pitcher to work back-to-back games in 2012 ... Sam Mahar made his Cliff Hagan Stadium debut with a shutout inning of work.