Walk-Off Homer Lifts Bulldogs in Seventh
April 3, 2010
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Kaili Smith hit a solo walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to break open a scoreless tie and give Mississippi State a 1-0 victory over Kentucky Saturday afternoon.
Smith's home run was the lone run of the game in a pitcher's duel in Starkville, Miss., during the third game of the series. The Wildcats had already claimed the series after taking both games of a doubleheader Friday.
Kentucky drops to 22-15 overall and 7-9 in Southeastern Conference action, while Mississippi State improves to 21-18 and 3-9 in league action.
Sophomore pitcher Chanda Bell went the distance for the Wildcats and tossed seven strikeouts in the loss despite only allowing two hits on the afternoon. Bell was able to go over the 200 strikeout plateau for the season during her performance. Junior Meagan Aull led the bats with two base hits - including her seventh double of the season.
Mississippi State's Chelsea Bramlett came up with the first hit of the game when she sent a blooper into shallow right-center in the bottom of the first. Aull had a shot at snagging the ball in center field, but her right cleat got caught in the wet grass from the stormy weather overnight and she slipped during her pursuit.
Bramlett, the top base runner in the conference, swiped two bases to advance to third. However, Bell came up with two huge strikeouts and the final out came on a pop-up to Natalie Smith at second base ending the threat.
Kentucky put a pair of runners on the base paths in the top of the second, but the Blue and White would leave the runners aboard. Rachel Riley got plucked with a pitch and Destinee Mordecai reached on a walk both with two outs on the scoreboard. The inning ended on a strikeout leaving UK with two runners stranded.
After earning her 200th strikeout of the season, Bell allowed the second base runner of the game to reach on a walk in the home half of the second with two outs in the inning. She wasted little time in fanning the fourth batter of the game to get out of the inning unscathed.
With an out in the top of the third, Molly Johnson singled into left center for the first base hit of the game for the Blue and White. Johnson quickly took off for second in a steal attempt, but was called out in an extremely close play at the base and the inning would end shortly after with another strikeout.
Megan Yocke had a super at-bat to lead off the top of the fourth. After falling down in the count 0-2, Yocke fought off a few pitches and then took four straight to earn a walk. Brittany Cervantes moved the runner into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Aull then hit a double which was a high sizzler into shallow right field and the diving fielder could not come up with the grab. Yocke, who had to wait and see if the ball would fall, ended up on third once the ball dropped to the grass. A pop-up and a strikeout ended the frame and prevented the Wildcats from scratching the scoreboard.
The Bulldogs earned an inning opening walk in the bottom of the fourth frame. UK's defense buckled down and did not allow any damage as Johnson forced two outs at second, and then snagged an over the head grab in shallow right-center to end the inning with a runner on base.
Kentucky left its fifth runner stranded of the game when Johnson was left at first in the visitor's side of the fifth. The senior had earned a two-out walk to place a runner on the base paths, but the inning ended with a foul-out to right field.Aull posted her second hit of the game when she was able to reach base on a well-placed bunt back to the pitcher in the top of the sixth. The hit came with two outs already registered in the inning. UK would once again leave the runner aboard when the third out came on a strikeout.
Kara Dill smacked a one-out line drive into the gap in right-center and earned a double to place a runner in scoring position in the top of the seventh. With two gone and a runner on second, Mississippi State elected to intentionally walk Johnson to put two base runners on the paths. Smith swung at the first pitch and sent a sizzler to the ground, but the second baseman was able to come up with the snag and get the out to conclude the inning leaving two more runners on base.
Kentucky returns to action on Wednesday, April 7, when the Blue and White travels to in-state rival Louisville for a single game beginning at 5 p.m. ET. The Cardinals earned an extra-inning win over the Wildcats in Lexington on March 10.
For the most up-to-date information on the UK softball team please visit UKathletics.com.