April 1, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. -- Facing a Sunday rubber match for the second consecutive weekend, No. 2 Kentucky pounded out 16 hits, got a career game at the plate from J.T. Riddle and a dominating start from Corey Littrell, to post an 11-2 win over No. 18 Georgia, clinching UK's first series win in Athens since 2000, on a steamy Sunday afternoon at Foley Field.
Kentucky (27-2, 7-2 Southeastern Conference) continued its school-record start to a season with its third consecutive SEC series win to open conference play. UK's series win in Athens marks the first series win at UGA since 2000. UK now owns a 5-1 record vs. top-25 teams in 2012 and the Wildcats sit atop the SEC standings, as No. 16 Ole Miss claimed the series from No. 1 Florida on Sunday.
The Wildcats got a blistering offensive attack, pounding out 11 runs on 16 hits, both highs in SEC play in 2012. UK was led by three hits from Riddle, who scored a career-high four runs, launched his second homer and had two RBI in a 3-for-3 game with a walk.
UK also got a career-high three hits from Matt Reida, who added a walk and a sacrifice. Austin Cousino had a 2-for-5 game with his fifth homer of the year, adding three RBI. Thomas McCarthy went 2-for-6 with three RBI, with every member of the UK lineup charting at least one hit. A.J. Reed, Luke Maile, Cameron Flynn and Zac Zellers each had a hit, while Michael Williams went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI.
Littrell (4-0) worked a career-high 7.2 innings, allowing eight hits and one run, walking two and striking out five. Littrell, a native of Louisville, Ky., allowed one Georgia run in the bottom of the first inning, before settling in to throw up six consecutive scoreless frames. Junior Tim Peterson took over for Littrell, allowing a solo homer but getting the final four outs in the game.
Georgia (18-10, 4-4 SEC) starter Michael Palazzone (0-2) worked five innings, allowing 11 hits and eight runs, striking out five. Over his last three career starts vs. UK, Palazzone has worked 14.1 innings, allowing 25 runs. UK's offensive output in the series came against a stout Georgia pitching corp that entered the series with a stellar 2.75 team ERA. Chase Hawkins replaced Palazzone to start the sixth, working two innings, allowing four hits and one run, striking out three. Jay Swinford, Ben Ancheff and Jarrett Brown were used in relief.
UK will return to action with a five-game homestand at Cliff Hagan Stadium, starting on Wednesday vs. Dayton at 6:30 p.m. ET. UK will host red-hot Ole Miss in a three-game series, starting Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The Bulldogs started strong in the first inning, as Conor Welton reached on a one-out single through the left side, with Kyle Farmer following with a hard-hit single to centerfield. After a wild pitch moved Welton to third base with one out, Hunter Cole drew a walk to load the bases. Brett DeLoach followed and hit a grounder deep in the hole on the left side, with Reida making a nice play to get to the ball and force Cole out at second base, with Welton scoring the first run of the game.
Kentucky answered with four runs on four hits to take a 4-1 lead in the top of the second. Zellers led off the inning with a laser single up the middle and Riddle was hit by a pitch. Williams then scored Zellers with a hard-hit single up the middle. Reida laid down a bunt to get Riddle to third base, with Reida replacing Williams at first on the fielder's choice. After Cousino got hit by his second pitch of the year to load the bases, McCarthy pounded a double into the gap, clearing the bases and giving UK the 4-1 lead.
UK added to its lead in the top of the fourth inning, as Reida led off with a high chopping single over the first baseman's head. Cousino followed and pounded his fourth homer of the year over the rightfield fence, making it 6-1 Wildcats. Cousino has homered in four of his last five games.
Flynn helped UK add to its lead in the fifth, leading off the frame with a double off the wall in centerfield. Riddle then scored him with a blast over the rightfield fence, making it 8-1 UK.
UK added a run to its lead in the seventh inning as Riddle ripped a double off a lefty to the opposite field line, with Williams replacing him at second base with a double of his own.
In the eighth inning, Georgia's Cole launched his sixth homer of the year, a line drive shot over the leftfield fence to cut the UK lead to 9-2.
UK added to its lead with two runs in the ninth inning, as Zellers and Riddle were both hit by one-out pitches, with Zellers scoring on a passed ball and Riddle touching home on Cousino's RBI fielder's choice.
GAME NOTES: With a leadoff single, Austin Cousino has now reached base safely in 27 of his 28 career games ... Cousino tied Luke Maile for a team-high six steals in the first inning ... J.T. Riddle was hit by his seventh pitch of the season ... Cousino was hit by his second pitch of the year ... Maile stole his team-high seventh base of the year in the second inning ... Thomas McCarthy record his seventh double of the year, tied for second on the club ... McCarthy has now reached base safely in 19 consecutive games ... Michael Williams extending his hitting streak to a club-high six games ... Riddle has reached safely in five of his last six games after a single in the third ... Cousino hit his fifth homer of the year in the fourth inning, hitting a homer in four of his last five games ... Cameron Flynn launched his fifth double of the year to leadoff the fifth ... Riddle hit his second homer of the year as a two-run homer in the fifth ... Matt Reida hit his fifth double of the year in the fifth ... Riddle pounded his eight double of the year into deep centerfield in the seventh ... Williams hit his third double of the year in the seventh ... UK turned a season-high three double plays ... Riddle tied his career high with three hits, setting a new career high with four runs scored ... A.J. Reed has now reached base safely in 21 consecutive games ... Corey Littrell set a new career high with 7.2 innings pitched ... Zac Zellers was hit by his 15th pitch of the year, leading the SEC ... Riddle was his second pitch of the game and the eighth pitch of the year ... Zellers now ranks sixth in UK baseball single-season history in hit by pitches ... UK's hit total was a season high in SEC games ... UK's series win in Athens was its first since the 2000 season ... Matt Reida's three hits marked a career high.