No. 19 Ole Miss Claims Series with Saturday Win
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Sophomore outfielder Cory Farris launched two homers and added four RBI but No. 19 Ole Miss held off a late-inning rally to post a 7-6 win over the 20th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats, securing the first Southeastern Conference series of the season, on a gorgeous, sun-splashed Saturday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (14-5, 0-2 SEC) trailed 7-2 entering the bottom of the eighth inning after allowing four runs to score in the top of the eighth – with two runs coming after a two-out throwing error. UK mounted a rally in the bottom of the eighth to cut the lead to 7-6 and put a runner on with two outs in the bottom of the ninth but Ole Miss freshman Brett Huber closed the door for his first career save.
The highlight of the game came in the bottom of the eighth inning, when Chad Wright led off the inning by belting a line-drive towards the outfield deck beyond the right-centerfield fence. The ball appeared headed for the deck but centerfielder Tim Ferguson tracked it the whole way, timing his leap at the right moment, skying over the fence to bring the ball back in play and retire Wright for the first out of the inning. The rest of the inning added to the importance of the catch from Ferguson, as UK turned to pinch hitter Lance Ray after Wright flied out and Ray turned on his first homer of the year, cutting the lead to 7-3. After Chris Bisson singled and Braden Kapteyn drew a walk, Farris hit his second homer of the game and the fourth of the year with a monster jack over the rightfield fence, cutting the lead to 7-6.
After Huber got the first two UK hitters in the bottom of the ninth, Wright drew a walk to bring the game-winning run to the plate in the form of Ray. Ray worked an 11-pitch at bat, fouling off six consecutive two-strike pitches in a battle with Huber, before hanging a game-ending fly out to leftfield.
Farris led UK with his first career multi-homer game, going 2-for-4 with four RBI and his fourth and fifth homers of the year. Wright added a 2-for-3 game with a walk and senior Gunner Glad went 2-for-4 with his fifth double of the year.
Ole Miss (15-4, 2-0 SEC) got an outstanding start from senior right-hander Aaron Barrett, who went seven full innings, with six hits and two runs allowed, striking out seven in a career-long outing. Barrett (5-0) picked up his fifth win in as many starts, improving his ERA to 1.69 on the season. Closer David Gorforth allowed the four UK runs in the top of the eighth inning, giving up three hits and one walk.
UK starter Taylor Rogers (3-1) got roughed up in his fifth career start, taking his first career loss. A 6-foot-3, 170-pound native of Littleton, Colo., Rogers went 7.1 innings, allowing eight hits and five runs. After allowing three runs in the top of the first inning in his first inning in the SEC, Rogers didn’t allow another run until leaving the game in the eighth frame. UK used Kapteyn, Nick Kennedy and Mike Kaczmarek in the game, with Kapteyn allowing a run after walking the only hitter he faced and Kennedy allowing two hits, one walk and one unearned run. Kaczmarek struck out one in his one inning of work.
The series will resume Sunday, with first-pitch at Cliff Hagan Stadium slated for 1 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM and in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM. Fans can also listen online at UKathletics.com. UK will send sophomore right-hander Alex Meyer (3-2, 7.29 ERA) to the mound to face off with junior Ole Miss left Matt Tracy (1-1, 3.38 ERA).
Ole Miss jumped on Rogers with three runs in the top of the first inning, taking a commanding 3-0 lead with Barrett on the mound. After Rogers got the leadoff hitter to fly out, Taylor Hashman singled up the middle and Tim Ferguson grounded out to move Hashman to second. After a full-count walk to Matt Snyder, Zach Miller singled into centerfield, scoring Hashman. Rogers then walked David Phillips to load the bases for Taylor Hightower. Hightower then singled into centerfield to score Snyder and Miller.
The Wildcats got on the board with a run in the bottom of the third inning, as Glad led off with a single into rightfield, bringing Black to the dish. Black laid down a bunt on the third base line and beat it out for a single, but the throw from Barrett sailed into rightfield, allowing Glad to move to third base. Wright scored Glad with a line-drive sacrifice fly into leftfield.
UK narrowed the Ole Miss lead to 3-2 with a single run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Farris led off and belted the first pitch he saw in the at bat, a soaring shot over the right-field fence. The first-pitch homer was the third roundtripper Farris has hit on the first pitch this season, charting four homers total on the year.
The Rebels opened up the game with four runs on three hits and an error, stretching the lead to 7-2 in the top of the eighth. Miller took a one-out offering from Rogers and lined a double down the right-field line and David Phillips got hit by a pitch, chasing Rogers from the game. UK turned to Kapteyn, who walked the first hitter he faced, Taylor Hightower, to load the bases. That brought Kennedy out of the bullpen, who induced a comebacker to the mound, but it slid just under his glove, allowing two runs to score on the single. With two out and a runner on third, Kevin Mort chopped a grounder to shortstop, with the throw to first drawing Glad off the base and Hightower scoring. Alex Yarbrough drew a walk and then pinch hitter Tanner Mathis singled up the middle to score Mort.
UK cut the lead to 7-6 with four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, getting two home runs including a three-run blast by Farris. The inning started when Wright sent a screamer to right-centerfield that appeared to be heading into the deck in right-centerfield but Rebel center fielder Tim Ferguson jumped and stretched out over the wall to claim a terrific game-changing catch. Kentucky would start another rally when Ray hit a solo shot into the parking lot in right field, a laser bomb that quickly left the park. After Bisson singled up the middle and Kapteyn walked, Farris stepped into the first pitch and launched a no-doubt homer over the tall rightfield wall to cut the Rebel lead to one.