Emily Gaines Cranks Walk-Off Homer to Even Series
April 5, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Senior rightfielder Emily Gaines smashed a two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift No. 12 Kentucky to a series-evening 4-2 win over No. 18 Texas A&M, on Saturday night at John Cropp Stadium.
Kentucky (30-8, 6-5 Southeastern Conference) rallied to even the series with the Gaines walk-off homer, her second walk-off of the 2014 season. After Sylver Samuel singled down the rightfield line to lead off the bottom of the 10th inning and Griffin Joiner laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Samuel to second, Gaines cranked a 1-2 offering over the leftfield fence for her fourth homer of the year.
With the win in its 38th game of the year, Kentucky has set a school mark as the fastest team in program annals to reach 30 wins. In 2011 and 2013 it took UK 40 games to reach 30 wins. Kentucky has seven 30-win seasons in school history, including 30 victories each of the last six seasons under head coach Rachel Lawson. The win over the highly ranked Aggies was the seventh of the season for Kentucky over a team ranked at the time UK played them. Under Lawson, the Wildcats have 47 wins over top-25 teams.
Texas A&M (27-11, 8-6 SEC) starter Katie Marks worked five innings, allowing seven hits and two runs, walking one and striking out three. Abby Donnell (4-3) suffered the loss, allowing two runs on two hits in 4.1 innings, striking out two.
Kentucky's Kelsey Nunley (14-4) picked up the win with six strong innings of relief, working around five hits and one walk, striking out five while allowing just one unearned run. UK starter Lauren Cumbess worked four gutsy innings coming back from injury, allowing three hits and one run, walking one and striking out two.
The Wildcats were paced at the plate by a three-hit game from Gaines, who drove in three RBI. The impressive game from Gaines extends her hitting streak to a career-best 10 games – the longest hitting streak of the season for any UK player. Leftfielder Ginny Carroll went 3-for-5, with Samuel adding a 2-for-4 night at the plate. UK also got a RBI and hit from third baseman Nikki Sagermann.
Texas A&M got the scoring started in the first inning, as Nicole Morgan singled down to leftfield, scoring on Cassie Tyzarczyk’s RBI double to right-centerfield.
UK took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, as Carroll led off with a bunt single and Samuel followed with a single up the middle. After Griffin Joiner was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Gaines singled up the middle to score Carroll. Sagermann followed with a sacrifice fly to rightfield, giving UK a 2-1 lead.
The Aggies evened up the game in the top of the seventh inning, starting with a two-out double from April Ryan. Nunley then got Emily Albus to chop a ball down the first-base line, with Nunley’s off-balance throw to first base skidding into rightfield for an error, allowing Ryan to motor home from second base with the tying run.
The series continues with a 1 p.m. ET finale on Sunday. Live stats and free live radio for the game will be available online at UKathletics.com. Sunday's game will be televised by Fox Sports South to the entire FSN South footprint and will be available online at ESPN3.com.
Single-game tickets into John Cropp Stadium are $5 for adults, $2 for seniors (65+) and youth (6-18). Children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge. Tickets are all general admission, and can be purchased by calling the ticket office at 1-800-928-2287. Tickets are also sold at John Cropp Stadium prior to each game, and all sales are cash only. Gates open one hour prior to first pitch.
The first 100 fans into John Cropp Stadium for Saturday's game will receive a set of 2014 Kentucky Softball Trading Cards, while the entire UK team will sign autographs following Saturday and Sunday's games.
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Kentucky - 30-8, 6-5 SEC
Texas A&M - 27-11, 8-6 SEC
Kentucky - No. 12 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25; No. 12 in NFCA/USA Today Top 25
Texas A&M - No. 18 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25; No. 21 in NFCA/USA Today Top 25
Friday, April 4
Texas A&M def. Kentucky 6-1
Saturday, April 5
Kentucky def. Texas A&M 4-2 (10)
Single game tickets for the series are $5 for adults, $2 for seniors (65+) and youth (6-18). Children ages 5 and under and UK students with a valid student ID are admitted free of charge. Tickets are all general admission, and can be purchased by calling the ticket office at 1-800-928-2287. Tickets are also sold at John Cropp Stadium prior to each game, and all sales are cash only.
The entire UK team will sign autographs following Sunday’s game.