Williams Throws 128-Pitch Gem to Even Series
May 2, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee took advantage of four walks, a hit batter and an error in the first two innings to plate four runs, and got a 128-pitch gem from senior starter Nick Williams, posting an 8-2 win over No. 25 Kentucky to even the series, on Friday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Kentucky (28-18, 10-13 Southeastern Conference) fell behind early after a four-run Tennessee rally in the bottom of the second inning, with the Vols taking advantage of four walks, a hit batter and an error from UK sophomore starter Dylan Dwyer. UK rallied with a homer from Matt Reida and a two-out RBI knock from Ka’ai Tom but the Vols erased that production with a two-run rally in the fourth inning, chasing Dwyer.
The Wildcats collected eight hits in the game but couldn’t get the clutch hit as UK left a runner on base in each inning and stranded a total of 11 runners. Reida’s blast – his third of 2014 – marked his second consecutive game with a homer, going 2-for-3 at the plate. UK also got a two-hit game from Austin Cousino, who cranked a triple, with Tom, Max Kuhn, Thomas Bernal and Storm Wilson each collecting hits. Cousino, a preseason All-America centerfielder, extended his team-long hitting streak to 10 games with his 2-for-5 night.
A native of Murray, Ky., Dwyer (5-3) worked over three innings, allowing five hits and six runs, walking four and striking out two. Chandler Shepherd, who missed 21 days due to injury in 2014 before returning for an inning last week, came on in relief with a 3-1 count and two on and no outs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Shepherd tossed the final five innings, allowing five hits and two runs, walking three and striking out four.
Tennessee’s (27-17, 9-14 SEC) Williams (5-4) – the brother of former UK catcher Michael Williams – worked six innings, allowing seven hits and two runs, walking two and striking out eight. Williams threw 128 pitches, including an injury scare on his 120th pitch of the night, forcing the training and coaching staff to come out and check on him, with Williams fighting through it to post a shutout sixth inning. It marked the second straight year Tennessee had used a starting pitcher for over 128 pitches in a win over UK, as senior righty Zack Goldey fired 130 pitches in a complete-game shutout in 2013.
UT freshman righty Kyle Serrano took over to start the eighth inning, working the final three innings for his first career save.
The series will conclude on Saturday at 12 p.m. ET. The game will be televised live on FSN, with Dave Baker and Larry Conley voicing the action. The game will also be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com. UK will turn to junior righty Andrew Nelson (1-4, 4.61 ERA) to face off with Tennessee ace southpaw Andy Cox (3-1, 1.96 ERA).
The Vols struck first in the bottom of the second inning, as Taylor Smart led off the inning with a walk, taking second on a sacrifice bunt. After David Houser was hit by an 0-1 pitch, UT started the runners for Derek Lance in a hit-and-run, with Lance chopping a slow roller to the hole vacated by Kuhn, who went to cover the third-base bag, allowing Smart to score. After a fly out, Dwyer walked Simcox for the second time to load the bases for leftfielder Christin Stewart. Stewart pounded a triple off the wall in rightfield, clearing the bases and giving the Vols a 4-0 lead.
Kentucky answered in the top of the third inning, as Cousino singled to lead off the frame, with Reed pushing him to second with a four-pitch walk. After a strikeout, Tom singled into the right-centerfield gap with two outs and two strikes, scoring Cousino.
Reida cut into the lead in the top of the fourth inning with his third homer of the year, a one-out blast over the rightfield fence.
The Vols rallied to chase Dwyer from the game in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Houser and Derek Lance singled and Will Maddox worked the count to 3-1, with UK forced to turn to Shepherd in relief. Maddox laid down a bunt on the third-base line, with Kuhn’s cleats getting stuck in the grass to allow Maddox to reach on an infield single as Kuhn slipped. Shepherd then got a big strikeout for the first out, before Stewart worked the count full and drew a bases-loaded walk to force in Houser. Shepherd then got Nick Senzel to hit a hard grounder to Kuhn, with Kuhn negotiating the runner coming from second base to get the force out at second base, with Lance scoring on the play, and Senzel just beating the throw for a potential inning-ending double play.
The Vols added two their lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, as Smart doubled off the wall in left-centerfield to lead off the frame. After a pair of outs, Lance doubled into the right-centerfield gap, scoring Smart. Shortstop A.J. Simcox then scored Lance with a two-out single through the left side.