Bombs Away: UK Blasts Past Mississippi State
March 25, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Four different Kentucky batters hit a home run as the Wildcats set a program record for homers in a single game in a 12-6 rout of Mississippi State on a frigid night at the UK Softball Complex. Senior Megan Yocke, juniors Brittany Cervantes and Rachel Riley and freshman Lauren Cumbess all connected for a round tripper to lead a UK offense that totaled 12 runs on 11 hits to claim the opening game of the series with the Bulldogs.
No. 23/24 Kentucky improves to 20-7 overall and 6-3 in Southeastern Conference action. Mississippi State drops to 15-15 on the season and 5-3 in league play.
Kentucky has matched a single-game record with three long balls on three occasions this season and finally set the new mark on a day with near sub-freezing temperatures in a back-and-forth battle with the Bulldogs.
"It was nice to see our offensive explode today and return to the form that we've played for the majority of the season," UK coach Rachel Lawson said. "We had a lot of long balls, we had a lot of base runners and I thought we did a lot of things the right way."
Cervantes was the first player to go yard, while Yocke and Cumbess charted long balls in the same inning. Riley's two-run shot proved to be the winning hit in the game. Yocke was 3-for-4 on the evening with three RBI. Cervantes was 1-for-1 with a walk and a sacrifice hit. Cumbess was 2-for-4 with three RBI and a pair of runs scored.
Riley earns the win on the mound for the Blue and White and improves to 6-2 on the season. Freshman Ellen Weaver worked 2.0 innings of flawless relief to close out the game for the Wildcats.
"Even though we had a pretty big lead, I thought Ellen did a great job coming in and closing the door for us," Lawson said.
Mississippi State opened the game by plating two scores in the top of the first. The Bulldogs notched a pair of doubles in the opening frame to grab the 2-0 advantage.
The Wildcats responded with two runs in the bottom of the second. Cervantes got things going with a solo shot over the right-center fence. The homer marked the ninth of the season for UK's junior third baseman. Following a ground out, senior Samantha DeMartine singled to keep the inning alive. Cumbess found a gap through the right side and senior Annie Rowlands was plucked with a pitch to load the bags with just one out. Sophomore Alice O'Brien sailed a ball to the center-field warning track to plate DeMartine on a sac fly to tie the score at two apiece.
Mississippi State fired back with two runs in the top of the third to once again capture a two-run edge by a 4-2 score. The Bulldogs plated the runs on a two-run homer by Sam Lenahan.
Kentucky enjoyed a four-run bottom of the third to steal the lead back from the visitor's and go ahead 6-4. For the second consecutive inning the Wildcats led off with a homer as Yocke fired her eighth of the season over the left-center wall.
Sophomore Kara Dill singled into left-center and Cervantes laid down a sacrifice bunt to shift the runner into scoring position. Following a groundout, DeMartine reached base for the second straight time when she earned a walk. Cumbess then plated three runs with her second round tripper of the season when she lined one over the right-center wall.
The teams were both held to scoreless stanzas in the fourth before Mississippi State struck for two runs in the top of the fifth to knot the score at six apiece. The Bulldogs benefited from a pair of opening walks when Chelsea Raines earned a two-run double in the right-center gap.
With the score tied for the second time in the game, Kentucky enjoyed its biggest inning of the day by scoring six runs in the home half of the fourth to grab a 12-6 lead it would never relinquish.
Cervantes opened things up by drawing a walk and Riley aided her own cause with a two-run bomb to left field. It was the second homer of the season for UK's starting pitcher. The hot-hitting Wildcats did not stop there as DeMartine drew her second walk of the game to place a runner on base. Cumbess executed a sacrifice bunt and was able to reach when the Bulldogs' pitcher mishandled the ball. Both runners shifted into scoring position on the same play when the right-handed Stephanie Becker tossed the ball into the visitor's dugout for the second error.
Rowlands' single through the left side plated pinch runner Ginny Carroll. Following back-to-back strikeouts, Yocke notched her third hit of the game with a two-run single into right field. Dill singled in the infield and the heady base running of Yocke would allow her to tap home for the final run when Mississippi State's third baseman skied another ball into the dugout in an attempt to get the speedy Dill out at first.
The teams will return to play at 1 p.m. ET on both Saturday and Sunday to complete the three-game series. Kentucky is searching to capture its third consecutive series from the Bulldogs with one more victory.
Complete coverage of the UK softball team can be found at UKathletics.com all season long.