Weather Prevents Sweep of No. 12 Arkansas
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The 12th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks plated a run in the third inning and three runs in the fourth, holding on for a 4-1 rain-shortened five-inning win over the Kentucky Wildcats, salvaging the series and preventing UK from the first series sweep over Arkansas in program history, on Sunday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The game was halted in the bottom of the sixth inning at 6:53 p.m. ET with two outs and UK owning two runners on base. Several things were at play in the later innings, including the Southeastern Conference travel policy that the contest is to be a seven-inning game and that no new inning in the contest could begin after 7 p.m. ET. After the umpiring crew saw lightning at 6:53 p.m. ET, they called the game, meaning that it would be 30 minutes before the game could resume, which would put it past the 7 p.m. ET curfew. Because the bottom of the sixth inning was not completed and with Arkansas owning a 5-1 lead at the time of the decision, the final score reverts back to the final full inning, making the final score 4-1 after a five-inning game.
Kentucky (19-22, 4-14 Southeastern Conference) jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a single run in the bottom of the second before Arkansas mounted a rally with a run in the third and three runs in the fourth. After Arkansas scored a run on a solo homer in the top of the sixth inning from James McCann, UK took a 5-1 deficit to the bottom of the sixth inning. The Wildcats mounted a rally in the bottom of the sixth inning, aware that they were running up against the clock with a large weather system moving into the Central Kentucky area, a four-run hole and the 7 p.m. ET curfew looming. With two outs, UK brought the game-tying run onto the on-deck circle after freshman Matt Reida collected his career-high third hit of the game, with junior Chad Wright at the plate and senior Taylor Black representing the game-tying run on deck. The game was halted before Wright got the plate, reverting the score back to the fifth inning and erasing the sixth inning.
The Wildcats did clinch its first series win over Arkansas since the 2005 season but fell short of sweeping the Razorbacks for the first time in the over 100-year history of the program. UK posted a pair of impressive wins over the red-hot Razorbacks, who entered the series leading the SEC Western Division. UK got a 3-2 win in the series opener behind starter Alex Meyer and a 3-1 win in game two courtesy of a two-run homer from Luke Maile and strong pitching from Corey Littrell, Alex Phillips and Trevor Gott.
UK had eight total hits in the game, getting a two-hit game from Reida, who had his third hit of the contest wiped out due to the sixth-inning decisions. UK got single hits from Wright, Braden Kapteyn, J.T. Riddle and Michael Williams. Wright reached base in the first inning and later added a single and has now reached base safely in 18 consecutive games and in 38 of 41 games this year, while senior shortstop Taylor Black snapped his hitting streak at a career-long 12 games. UK third baseman Thomas McCarthy went hitless in three at bats, marking only the second start this year that McCarthy has failed to reach base safely, with the Corvallis, Ore., native reaching base safely in 38 of his 40 starts in 2011.
UK starter Taylor Rogers (2-5) took the loss, allowing four runs and eight hits in five innings pitched, not issuing a walk and striking out two. The start does go as a complete-game pitching outing for Rogers, his first of the year and the second of his two-year career.
Throughout the weekend UK's pitching staff was dominating, totaling a 2.35 ERA in 23 innings, allowing only 16 hits and only six extra-base hits, all doubles, with Arkansas batting .200 on the weekend. UK's bullpen tossed 3.1 shutout innings in relief and UK got dynamic starting outings from Littrell and Meyer. Offensively, UK - which entered the series leading the SEC in home runs and slugging percentage - was led by Williams and Wright, who collected four hits on the weekend. The big hit on the weekend came from Maile, his two-run homer in the second game of the series.
Arkansas (27-11, 8-9 SEC) starter Brandon Moore went 1.2 innings, allowing four hits and one run, striking out two. Trent Daniel (2-0) replaced Moore and turned in a gem, tossing 3.1 shutout innings, allowing two hits and two walks, striking out five.
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.
UK got on the board in the second inning, as Riddle led off with a single, a perfect bunt down the first-base line. After a fly out, Williams singled through the left side of the infield, moving Riddle to third base with one out. After a strikeout for the second out, Reida smacked a single through the right side to score Riddle and give UK a 1-0 lead.
Arkansas got on the board in the top of the third inning, evening up the game at 1-1. Kyle Atkins led off the frame with a single through the right side and Tim Carver singled up the middle. After a Bo Bigham sacrifice bunt moved two runners into scoring position, Matt Reynolds lined out to rightfield for a sacrifice fly, allowing Atkins to score.
The Razorbacks took the lead in the top of the fourth inning, as Kyle Robinson led off with a double, off the glove of a diving Wright in left-centerfield. After a ground out from Dominic Ficociello to the right side moved Robinson to third base, James McCann hit a slow roller at shortstop, with Robinson coming home to score. Jarrod McKinney then scored McKinney with a double into the right-centerfield gap.
GAME NOTES: Senior Taylor Black started his team-high 81st consecutive game at shortstop, Chad Wright started his 48th consecutive game in the outfield and Braden Kapteyn started his 46th straight game at first base or DH ... Matt Reida made his team-best 20th start of the year at second base ... Wright reached base safely in 38 of 41 games this year and in 18 consecutive games ... Reida has hit second career multi-hit game and his first since a three-hit game at Morehead State on Feb. 22 ... UK's series win over Arkansas was its first vs. the Razorbacks since the 2005 season, with UK falling short of its first sweep vs. Arkansas in program annals.