Barrett, Tom Pace Baseball's Series-Clinching Win over No. 20 MSU
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Ka'ai Tom belted a first-inning home run and Kyle Barrett tied his career high with four hits, leading Kentucky to a series-clinching 9-7 win over No. 20 Mississippi State, on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (15-7, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) clinched the series against the Bulldogs and have now won a school-record five consecutive games vs. Mississippi State, eclipsing the previous streak of four straight from 1987-88. UK opened the series with a 10-2 win over MSU on Friday night, getting a strong start from sophomore righty Zack Brown and a homer from Barrett.
The Wildcats now have a school-record 51 wins over top-20 foes and a record 57 wins over ranked foes in the UK coach Gary Henderson era. Henderson has led UK to 13 series wins over top-20 opponents in his career, directing the Wildcats to the most successful seven-year period in program history vs. ranked foes.
UK starter Dustin Beggs (3-2) worked six innings, allowing four hits and three runs, walking two and striking out two. Beggs allowed a single run in the third inning after a leadoff double, before surrendering a solo homer in the fifth inning and getting chased from the game after a leadoff walk in the seventh.
Right-hander Bo Wilson came on to get an out in the seventh, allowing a double, with lefty Zach Logue replacing him with one out and a runner at third base. Logue got a force out at the plate for the second out of the frame, before a line out ended the seventh inning with UK still leading. After the Wildcats stretched their lead to 8-3 with three runs in the bottom of the seventh, Logue got the first two outs of the ninth and was an out away from the eight-out save but the Bulldogs rallied to plate four runs, including a pair of homers. Senior Spencer Jack came on in relief to retire the final out and pick up his third save.
The Wildcats got a career-high equaling four hits from Barrett, who went 4-for-5 with an RBI. Tom belted his first homer of the year, a two-run job in the first inning to give UK an early lead. UK also got a two-hit game from freshman Riley Mahan, and hits from Evan White, Thomas Bernal, Dorian Hairston, Greg Fettes and Connor Heady. Storm Wilson drew a walk and laid down a sacrifice bunt and JaVon Shelby drew two walks.
Mississippi State (17-8, 1-4 SEC) starter Austin Sexton (3-1) worked 5.1 innings, allowing eight hits and five runs, walking four and striking out four. MSU used relievers Myles Gentry and Daniel Brown to escape the sixth inning, with Zac Houston, Paul Young and Levi Mintz also working in relief.
The series will conclude on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network+ with Jeff Piecoro and Keith Madison voicing the action. The game will also be broadcast live on the UK Radio Network with the Dick Gabriel calling the action. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the game live on Fox Sports Radio 1580-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
The Wildcats got on the board in the bottom of the first inning, as Barrett led off with a single up the middle on the first pitch he saw. After a strikeout, Tom connected on his second homer of the year, a towering blast down the rightfield line.
Kentucky added a run in the bottom of the third inning, as Mahan led off with a single, taking second on a wild pitch on a good dirt-ball read. Barrett then singled up the middle, scoring Mahan for a 3-0 lead.
MSU got a run back in the top of the third inning, cutting into the UK lead. Matthew Britton doubled down the rightfield line, taking third on a sacrifice bunt and scoring on a sacrifice fly from Jacob Robson.
Britton then smashed a one-out home run over the wall in rightfield, his first of the year, in the top of the fifth inning, cutting the UK lead to 3-2.
UK stretched its lead and chased Sexton in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Mahan led off with a popped-up bunt that landed perfectly on the right side. Fettes then lined a double into the right-centerfield gap, scoring Mahan. Heady followed with a walk and after a wild pitch and a strikeout put a pair of runners in scoring position, White beat out an infield single on a grounder up the middle, scoring Fettes from third.
The Bulldogs rallied to chase Beggs from the game in the top of the seventh inning, beginning with a Wes Rea walk. After UK turned to Wilson in relief, Reid Humpreys then lined a double into the left-centerfield gap, putting two runners in scoring position with no outs. Wilson then got Ryan Gridley to ground out up the middle, scoring Rea, with Heady making a nice play to record the first out.
UK got three runs back in the bottom of the seventh inning, as Shelby led off with a one-hopper off the chest of Britton at third base. After a Wilson sacrifice bunt and a Bernal walk, Hairston - pinch hitting for Mahan - doubled down the rightfield line, scoring Shelby. Fettes then lined out for a sacrifice fly, scoring Bernal, and Heady singled down the leftfield line to score Hairston.
Shelby drew his second walk of the game in the eighth, scoring on three wild pitches for a 9-3 lead.
The Bulldogs plated four runs in the ninth inning with two outs, including homers from Cody Walker and Jacob Robson.