No. 2 Baseball Outlasts No. 18 UGA 9-8 to Even Series
March 31, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. -- In a wild contest that saw the lead change hands or the game tied a total of six times, with runs scoring in eight of nine frames, No. 2 Kentucky outlasted No. 18 Georgia in the second game of a doubleheader, evening the three-game series, on a humid Saturday evening in front of a season-high 3,100 at Foley Field.
Kentucky (26-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) outlasted the Bulldogs in a wild affair that saw runs score in eight of the nine innings played, with the teams held out of the run column only in the ninth inning. The game was the second in the three-game series and the second of the day, as rain on Friday forced a doubleheader on Saturday, with Georgia edging UK 7-6 in the first game.
For the second consecutive game, UK fell behind in an early hole, facing a 3-0 deficit entering the fourth inning, a game after UK fell behind 6-0 in the series opener. UK rallied to take a 4-3 lead with four runs in the frame, before Georgia answered with a run in the bottom of the inning. UK responded to take the lead in the top of the fifth, before the Bulldogs plated two in the bottom of the sixth to take a 6-5 lead. UK again responded with three runs in the seventh inning - courtesy of a monster home run from Cameron Flynn - and despite allowing single UGA runs in the bottom of the seventh and eighth, posted a 9-8 win, dancing around a two-out error in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The Wildcats were paced by a 14-hit outing from its offensive attack, also drawing four walks and getting homers from Flynn and Thomas McCarthy. Michael Williams led the charge with a career-high three hits and four RBI. Flynn finished 3-for-5 with his team-high seventh homer of the year, with his two RBI coming on his mammoth homer that hit halfway up the light tower behind the rightfield fence.
UK also got two-hit games from A.J. Reed, Lucas Witt and J.T. Riddle, with Witt and Riddle making strong defensive plays, with Witt making a fully extended catch down the leftfield line early in the game to save a run. UK also got hits from McCarthy and Luke Maile, with freshman centerfielder Austin Cousino drawing a walk, now reaching base safely in 26 of his 27 career collegiate games
UK starter Jerad Grundy was roughed up for the first time in his UK career, going 2.2 innings, allowing seven hits and three runs, issuing one walk with one strikeout. UK used six total pitchers in the game, with Reed tossing 1.1 innings with four hits and one run allowed, striking out three as the first reliever to replace Grundy. UK then used Walter Wijas, who worked 1.1 innings with one hit, two walks and three strikeouts. Senior Alex Phillips (4-0) battled for the win, going 1.2 innings, allowing one hit and one run, with one strikeout. Tim Peterson put UK in position for the win by pitching the eighth inning with a two-run lead, with a run scoring on an error, allowing one hit.
Sophomore righty Trevor Gott picked up his sixth save of the year with a shutout ninth inning, dancing around a two-out throwing error. Gott, a native of Lexington, Ky., and the 2011 Cape Cod League Reliever of the Year, now sits in a tie for the sixth most saves in UK single-season history, with his eight career saves ranking tied for eighth all-time.
The win gives UK an impressive 8-1 record in 2012 in one-run games, just 28 games into the season, a year after posting a 4-6 record in one-run games through 55 games in 2011. UK's loss in the series-opener was its first loss in a one-run game in 2012, as the Wildcats are off to the best start to a season in the over-100 year history of the program.
Georgia (18-10, 4-4 SEC) starter Pete Nagel worked 3.1 innings, allowing four hits and three runs, walking one and striking out two. Georgia also emptied its bullpen as both teams tried to find answers on the mound, with the Bulldogs using seven total pitchers. Chase Hawkins, Jay Swinford, Earl Daniels, Luke Crumley (1-2), Bryan Benzor and Jarrett Brown each worked in relief. Crumley suffered the loss, allowing two runs in his one frame.
The series will conclude on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET at Foley Field. The game will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the action live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com. UK will send sophomore lefty Corey Littrell (3-0, 2.04 ERA) to face Georgia senior right-hander Michael Palazzone (0-2, 3.41 ERA).
Georgia got on the board in the first inning, as Levi Hyams led off with a single through the right side, with Curt Powell replacing him at first on a fielder's choice. Kyle Farmer then flied out to leftfield and Hunter Cole followed with a laser to deep centerfield. Cousino tracked it all the way to the wall, leaping and securing the ball in his glove before his collision with the centerfield fence bounced the ball out of his glove, allowing Powell to score from first.
In the second inning, Colby May led off with a double to leftfield, taking third on Conor Welton's sacrifice bunt. Brandon Stephens then scored him with a single through the left side.
Georgia added a run to its lead in the third inning, as Brett DeLoach singled to left centerfield with one out, moving to second after a single to centerfield from Welton. Stephens then ripped a single through th left side to score DeLoach.
The Wildcats got on the board and took a 4-3 lead in the top of the fourth inning, using four hits. After a fly out to leadoff, Reed smacked a single to leftfield and Flynn followed with a single to centerfield. Witt then loaded the bases with an infield single, before Riddle forced home UK's first run with a bases-loaded, 3-2 walk. Williams then cleared the bases with a double down the leftfield line, giving UK the short-lived lead.
UGA tied the game up in the fourth frame, as Powell reached on an infield single and Farmer drew a walk. Reed then struck out Cole for the second out, before DeLoach singled to rightfield, with the throw at the plate in time but bouncing out of Maile's glove after the collision.
UK regained the lead in the top of the fifth, as McCarthy cranked a solo home run into the trees in leftfield, his third homer of the year.
Georgia took the lead back in the bottom of the sixth inning as Wijas issued back-to-back walks to start the frame. DeLoach then singled up the middle to score Farmer, before Wijas struck out May looking. Welton followed and reached on a fielder's choice, with DeLoach out on the play and Cole scoring the go-ahead run.
The Wildcats immediately answered in the top of the seventh, to take an 8-6 lead. Cousino led off with a full-count walk, taking second on a wild pitch. Reed then scored Cousino with a single through the right side to bring up Flynn. Flynn crushed his seventh homer of the year over the rightfield fence, hitting high off the light tower to give UK a lead.
Georgia responded with a run in the bottom of the seventh, as Verdin led off with a triple down the leftfield line, scoring on Farmer's sacrifice fly to rightfield, narrowly beating the throw to the plate with a collision into Maile.
UK plated a run in the top of the eighth, as Riddle cranked a double down the opposite-field line, taking third on a wild pitch and scoring on Williams' fourth RBI of the game, a single smacked up the middle in what eventually would be the game-winning RBI.
The Bulldogs cut the UK lead with an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth, as May reached on a one-out throwing error, scoring on Welton's double into leftfield.
GAME NOTES: Michael Williams recorded his second double of the year to clear the bases in the fourth ... Thomas McCarthy hit his third homer of the year in the fifth inning ... Lucas Witt stole his fifth base of the year in the sixth ... Austin Cousino has reached base safely in 26 of his 27 career collegiate games ... A.J. Reed has reached base safely in 20 consecutive games ... Reed has reached base safely in all 26 of his starting assignments and in 26 of 27 career NCAA games ... McCarthy has now reached base safely in 18 consecutive games ... Cameron Flynn hit his team-leading seventh homer of the year in the seventh inning ... J.T. Riddle recorded his seventh double of the year to leadoff the eighth inning ... Williams tied a career high with three hits, setting a new career mark with four RBI ... Flynn tied his career high with three hits ... Trevor Gott recorded his team-high sixth save of the year, the sixth-most single-season saves in program history, with his eight career saves ranking tied with Braden Kapteyn, Aaron Lovett and Adam Shadburne for the eight-most in UK career history.