OXFORD, Miss. -- After falling behind by nine runs early, Kentucky mounted a furious rally to plate seven unanswered runs in the seventh and eighth innings and loaded the bases in the ninth inning, but Ole Miss held off the rally to post a 12-10 win over the Wildcats, clinching the series on Saturday afternoon in front of 9,493 at Swayze Field.
After falling behind 9-1 after four innings and then 12-3 after six, UK mounted a late-inning charge, plating two runs in the fifth, four runs in the seventh and eight runs in the eighth to cut the lead to 12-10. In the ninth inning, UK mounted a furious rally with two outs, loading the bases. Ole Miss closer Bobby Wahl – who saved the Friday night contest – battled to get the final out of the game, stranding three Wildcats and lifting the Rebels to the series-clinching win.
Kentucky (17-19, 2-12 Southeastern Conference) had a great offensive game, scoring 10 runs on 14 hits. The Wildcats got multi-hit games from Taylor Black, Braden Kapteyn, Thomas McCarthy, Michael Williams and Brian Adams. Adams, a sophomore from Gainesville, Ga., hit his second homer of the year, scoring three runs and collecting a pair of hits, in addition to drawing a walk to load the bases on a 3-2 count in the ninth inning off Wahl. Black and Kapteyn led UK with three RBI each.
UK also got doubles from McCarthy and Wright, with McCarthy’s two-bagger going as his team-leading 14th of the year. Two of UK’s most consistent hitters this year, McCarthy has reached base safely in 34 of the 35 games he has started and Wright has reached base safely in 32 of 36 games. McCarthy finished 2-for-3 in the game.
UK starter Corey Littrell (4-3) took the loss, allowing eight hits, nine runs – five earned – walking two and striking out two in 3.1 innings. He was relieved in the fourth inning by Walter Wijas, who went 3.2 innings, allowing six hits and three runs, walking two and recording one strikeout. Alex Phillips tossed a perfect bottom of the eighth inning in relief of Wijas.
Ole Miss (22-14, 7-7 SEC) starter David Goforth (3-5) went 6.2 innings, allowing eight hits and six runs – five earned – walking two and striking out five. He was relieved by Blair Wright and Mike Mayers, before turning it over to Wahl, who got his second save of the year.
The series will resume on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET at Swayze Field. UK will send sophomore southpaw Taylor Rogers to the hill to face off with Ole Miss junior Austin Wright (4-3). The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
Ole Miss got on the board in the bottom of the first inning, taking a 3-0 lead. Blake Newalu reached on a two-out error and Alex Yarbrough took advantage of a hit-and-run and singled through the right side with the second baseman covering the base. Matt Smith then drew a walk to load the bags for Matt Tracy. Tracy hit a slow roller to second base, but he beat out the back end of the double play to allow Newalu to score. After Preston Overbey got hit by a pitch to load the bases, Will Allen reached on an error, with Tracy and Yarbrough scoring unearned runs on the play.
The Rebels got a run in the second inning, as Littrell struck out Jordan Poole to lead off and Tanner Mathis singled to right. Newalu followed and singled to left, with Mathis moving to third base. With Yarbrough at the plate, Mathis touched home on a wild pitch.
The Wildcats plated a run in the third inning to cut the lead to 4-1. Mike Kaczmarek led off the frame with a high chopper to first base, reaching on an error. After a passed ball allowed him to move to second and a groundout sent him to third, Black hit a high chopper back to the mound, with the throw to first going as an error, allowing Kaczmarek to score.
Ole Miss got a run in the third inning, as Tracy led off the inning with a single to right. Littrell then got Overbey to hit a grounder that could be the have been a double-play ball, but an errant throw sailed into rightfield for an error, allowing Tracy to move to third and Overbey to second. Littrell responded with a swinging strikeout of Will Allen to bring Hightower to the plate. Hightower hit a grounder deep into the hole on the left side with Black making a tremendous play, ranging far to his right, making a strong throw to get the runner at first, with Tracy scoring on the play.
Ole Miss plated four runs on five hits in the fourth, as Mathis drew a walk to lead off. Newalu then laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line, with the charging McCarthy making a running bare-handed grab and off-balance throw to get him at first. Yarbrough then floated a single into centerfield, just out reach of Adams, UK’s centerfielder. Smith then followed and hit a screamer at Black at short, which took a wild bounce and sailed into the outfield, Mathis scoring on the play. With the double steal on at second and third, UK attempted to get the runner at second, the throw sailing into center for an error. Tracy then hit a two-run homer to right for a 9-1 lead.
UK answered with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning, cutting the lead to 9-3. With one out, Adams launched his second homer of the year, tucking it around the foul pole in leftfield. Wright followed and pelted his 10th double of the year off the wall in rightfield, moving to third on a wild pitch and scoring on Black’s RBI groundout.
Ole Miss plated two runs in the fifth inning, as Miles Hamblin led off with a walk, Mathis singled to centerfield, the duo moving into scoring position on Newalu’s sacrifice bunt. Wijas got Yarbrough to pop out in foul ground to McCarthy, who negotiated the wind for the catch. Smith then singled into centerfield to score two runs.
The Rebels scored again in the sixth inning, as Overbey drew a walk to lead off the inning and Matt Snyder doubled off the wall in right-centerfield to drive him in.
UK mounted a rally in the seventh inning, plating four runs to cut the lead to 12-7. After pinch hitter Dallen Reber grounded out to lead off, Adams smacked a single into the left-centerfield gap. After the second out, Black moved him to third on a single down the left-field line, with Black moving to second on the throw to third. Kapteyn then smoked a single to left to score the pair and Matt Reida lofted a single into centerfield, with Kapteyn coming around to score from first on a throwing error and Reida scampering to second. Riddle then doubled to centerfield, sending a liner up the middle and hustling to second base with no Rebels covering the bag and Reida scoring from second.
In the eighth inning the Wildcats put a tremendous amount of pressure on the Rebels with three runs to cut the lead to 12-10. UK actually had the game-tying run at the plate with two outs. Williams led off the inning with a single through the left side and Adams got hit by a pitch. After a fly out, Black smoked a double into the gap for two RBI and Kapteyn painted a double down the left-field line to score Black.
UK rallied with two outs in the ninth inning and was a single away from evening the game. Williams led off with a single through the left side and Reber painted a double down the left-field line to move Williams’ pinch runner, Lucas Witt, to third base. Adams drew a 3-2 walk to load the bases for Wright. Wright then flied out to leftfield to end the game.
GAME NOTES: Freshman Paul McConkey made his third consecutive start and the 11th of his career … Thomas McCarthy’s double down the left-field line was his team-best 14th two-bagger of the year … McCarthy has now reached base safely in 34 of 36 games this year and in 34 of 35 starts … McCarthy has now doubled in three consecutive games … Brian Adams hit his second homer of the year in the fifth inning and the third of his career … Chad Wright doubled off the wall in rightfield in the fifth inning, the 10th double of the year for Wright … Wright has reached base safely in 32 of 36 games this year and in a team-best 13th consecutive games … Taylor Black started his 76th consecutive game at shortstop … Black extended his hitting streak to a team and career-high eight games … J.T. Riddle legged out his seventh double of the year on a routine line drive to centerfield … Black’s two-RBI double in the eighth was his second of the game and the 13th of the year … Kapteyn’s RBI double in the eighth was his eighth double of the year … Dallen Reber hit his first career double in the ninth inning.