Maile's Homer Lifts Baseball to Series-Clinching Win
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Catcher Luke Maile belted a no-doubt blast in the fourth inning and Kentucky got dynamic pitching from freshman starter Corey Littrell and relievers Alex Phillips and Trevor Gott, posting a 3-1 series-clinching win over No. 12 Arkansas on Sunday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The finale of the series is currently underway at Cliff Hagan Stadium, with UK seeking its first sweep of Arkansas in program history. UK's last series win over Arkansas came during the 2005 season in Lexington.
The two teams battled through an 18-hour and 40-minute rain delay, as the game was postponed in the bottom of the third inning with the game scoreless on Saturday night. Upon returning on Sunday after a second delay, UK sent Littrell back to the mound, with the freshman twirling a gem in a winning effort. Maile got UK on the board with the game-winning hit in the fourth, a blast over the leftfield fence, his team-best sixth of the year. After UK took the lead, the Wildcats used a combination of Phillips and Gott to seal the win, with Gott getting the final two outs by strikeout for his second save of the year.
UK posted a 3-2 win over the Razorbacks in the series opener, on Saturday after Friday's game was rained out. UK got a dynamic starting performance in the opener from junior Alex Meyer, who tossed his third complete game and fanned 10, allowing only three hits and one earned run in nine frames. s
Kentucky (19-21, 4-13 Southeastern Conference) used strong pitching from Littrell (5-3), who finished one out shy of his fifth quality start of the year. The native of Louisville, Ky., went 5.2 innings, allowing only three hits and one run, walking two and striking out four. Phillips put UK in a great position to win, coming on in place of Littrell with runners on first and second and two outs in the sixth and stranded the runners on base with a fly out. Phillips went 2.2 shutout innings, allowing only two hits. Gott came on with the game-tying run at the plate in the ninth inning, striking out two hitters in nine pitches for the save.
The Wildcats were led at the plate offensively by Maile, who hit the decisive homer, also adding a walk and laying down a sacrifice bunt. Third baseman Thomas McCarthy charted a two-hit game, adding an RBI in the bottom of the eighth inning to give UK a manageable cushion. Chad Wright and Taylor Black each collected hits, with Wright reaching in the 17th consecutive game and Black extending his hitting streak to a career-long 12 games.
Arkansas (27-11, 8-9 SEC) starter DJ Baxendale, who went two innings before the delay, not allowing a hit, walking two and striking out one. Cade Lynch relieved him in the bottom of the third after the delay and worked into the seventh inning, going 4.1 innings, allowing two hits and two runs, walking two and striking out four. Barrett Astin relieved Lynch with two runners on base in the bottom of the seventh inning and one out got an inning-ending double play. Astin went 1.1 innings, allowing three hits and one run, before Trent Daniel replaced him with two outs in the eighth and got one out.
UK returns to action with a midweek test vs. Louisville on Tuesday, with first pitch at 7 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be 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, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com. The game will also be televised live on BBSN, with Dick Gabriel, Doug Flynn and Ryan Lemond calling the action.
The Wildcats got on the board first in the bottom of the fourth inning, as McCarthy lined a one-out single into centerfield and Maile belted a no-doubt blast over the leftfield fence, his team-best sixth of the year.
Arkansas cut into the lead with a run in the top of the sixth inning, as the Razorbacks got a lead-off single from shortstop Tim Carver, who came around to score on Collin Kuhn's RBI double down the leftfield line.
UK added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning, as Wright singled up the middle with one out and Black poked a single to rightfield. After a pop out, McCarthy ripped a single up the middle to score Wright and make it 3-1 UK.
GAME NOTES: Senior Taylor Black started his team-high 80th consecutive game at shortstop, Chad Wright started his 47th consecutive game in the outfield and Braden Kapteyn started his 45th straight game at first base or DH ... Freshman J.T. Riddle started his ninth game of the year at second base, second-most on the club ... Thomas McCarthy has reached base safely in 38 of 39 starts this year ... Luke Maile hit his team-high sixth homer of the year, giving UK the lead in the fourth inning ... Littrell finished one out shy of his fifth quality start of the year ... Alex Phillips has now inherited 21 runners on the year and allowed 10 to score ... Brian Adams grounded into the first double play his has hit into this year in the seventh inning ... Wright has reached base safely in 37 of 40 games this year and in 17 consecutive games ... Black extended his hitting streak to a career-long 12 games ... McCarthy owns 14 multi-hit games this year and 10 two-hit games ... McCarthy now owns 18 two-out hits and 11 two-out RBI.