Glad's Two-Out, Three-Run Homer in Ninth Lifts UK to Win
ATHENS, Ga. -- After Kentucky allowed Georgia to tie the game with two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, senior Gunner Glad launched a two-out, three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning, lifting the Wildcats to a wild 14-11 win over the Bulldogs, in front of 2,577 fans Saturday afternoon at Foley Field.
Kentucky (31-25, 13-17 Southeastern Conference) took a two-run lead into the bottom of the eighth inning but the Bulldogs got a leadoff home run from Zach Cone to cut the lead to one and UGA plated a run with two outs to even the game at 11-11 entering the top of the ninth. Georgia called on flame-throwing closer Cooper Moseley to start the top of the ninth. Kentucky freshman leftfielder Brian Adams led off the inning with a single ripped through the middle, his career-high fourth hit of the game, moving to second on Neiko Johnson’s sacrifice bunt and advancing to third after Chris Bisson flied out to shallow centerfield. That brought up Chad Wright with Adams at third base, and Wright took a pitch off the leg, with Adams scoring on what appeared to be a wild pitch before it was ruled as a hit-by-pitch. Glad then strolled to the plate and belted a three-run homer to give UK a 14-11 lead entering the bottom of the ninth inning. Nick Kennedy, who got the final three outs of the eighth inning, retired Georgia’s 1-2-3 hitters in order to seal the win.
A native of Gainesville, Ga., Adams had a career game in helping UK pound out 16 hits and 14 runs in the regular-season finale. The 6-foot-4, 217-pound scholarship wide receiver on the football team, totaled a career-best 4-for-5 game, with a career-high six RBI and his first career triple and home run, with his homer coming as a grand slam in the second inning.
The win secures a ninth-place finish for the Wildcats in the rugged SEC, falling just shy of making the conference tournament, as Alabama and LSU secured the final two spots in the tournament, to be held beginning Wednesday at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala. UK will await the NCAA Tournament selection, to be held following conference tournaments on May 31.
Kentucky boasts a strong resume for NCAA Tournament inclusion, owning a total of 16 wins over teams that entered Saturday ranked in the top 46 in the latest NCAA RPI projections on BoydsWorld.com. The Wildcats entered the weekend series owning a No. 20 RPI. Kentucky owns a total of 14 wins over teams ranked ahead of UK in the RPI, including series wins over No. 14 South Carolina, No. 16 Alabama and the defending NCAA champions, No. 25 LSU. All told, UK leads the SEC with 12 wins over top-25 opponents. In addition, UK has wins over No. 3 Florida, at No. 4 Coastal Carolina, No. 6 Louisville, at No. 10 Arkansas, at No. 15 Auburn, No. 27 Ole Miss and at No. 22 San Diego. UK also has a win over Virginia Tech, ranked No. 12 in the latest Baseball America top 25. The Wildcats have also suffered walk-off losses on the road at ranked opponents where UK entered the final inning owning a lead, at Arkansas, at Auburn, at No. 15 Vanderbilt and at Louisville. UK has a total of 13 games lost by a margin of one or two runs in the 2010 season. Kentucky was also victim of some tough-luck scheduling, as the lone team it missed on the 2010 conference schedule was 11th-place Mississippi State, a team sporting a 5-24 conference record, with a school-record 11 consecutive conference losses entering the final game of the season.
UK also got three hits from Bisson, with seniors Keenan Wiley and Marcus Nidiffer each charting two hits, with Lance Ray adding two hits. Wright, Johnson and Glad each totaled a hit, with Glad’s hit coming as the game-winner. The home run for Glad was his team-high 12th of the season.
Kentucky true freshman starter Taylor Rogers went four innings, allowing six hits and five runs – four earned – walking a career-high three and striking out one. Rogers was relieved by Logan Darnell, who went three innings, allowing nine hits and five runs – two earned – not issuing a walk and striking out two. Darnell was relieved by Kennedy (4-1) who went the final two innings, allowed two hits and one run, striking out one.
Georgia (16-37, 5-23 SEC) starter Michael Palazzone lasted four innings, allowing seven hits and six runs, walking one and striking out seven. Chase Hawkins came on for Palazzone, getting two outs and allowing three hits and three runs, before Steve Esmonde relieved Hawkins. Esmonde went 1.1 innings with one hit in his final game of his collegiate career. Tanner Cecil took over for Esmonde and hit the first batter he faced and walked the second, ending his day. Justin Earls relieved Cecil and tossed two scoreless innings, allowing three hits. Moseley (0-5) took the loss, allowing two hits and three runs in his inning of action.
Just like the first two games in the series, the Bulldogs started the scoring in the first inning sparked by Johnathan Taylor who blasted a one-out triple over the head of Wiley in centerfield. Levi Hyams then plated the first run, chopping a ball over the head of Ray at first to plate Taylor. Zach Cone then singled to rightfield, advancing Hyams to second for Kyle Farmer who hit a blast to centerfield to advance Hyams to third. With Kevin Ruiz batting, Rogers tossed a wild pitch, allowing Hyams to score and Cone to advance to third. The inning ended when Ruiz struck out swinging with UGA leading 2-0.
Kentucky loaded the bases with no outs to start the second inning after Nidiffer doubled to left, Black walked and Wiley hit a bunt single. Adams then stepped up and hit a no-doubt blast over the left-centerfield wall to give the Wildcats a 4-2 lead, their first lead of the series. UK added another run when Bisson reached on a single, stealing second and scoring when Wright singled through the left side of the infield to give UK a 5-2 lead.
The Bulldogs answered the Wildcats rally by loading the bases with no outs to start the second. With the bases loaded and Peter Verdin up, Verdin grounded softly to second for what looked to be a fielder’s choice with runners advancing to third and home but interference was called, making the play a 4-6-3 double play with both runners having to go back to second and third. UGA would still start a two-out rally, getting an infield single by Taylor and Hyams to each score a run and cut the UK lead to 5-4.
Kentucky plated a run in the fourth inning when Johnson started the inning with a bunt single, advancing to second on a stolen base. Johnson then advanced to third on a wild pitch. After Bisson struck out and Wright was out on a bunt to the right side, Johnson came home to score on a wild pitch to give UK a 6-4 lead.
The Wildcats scored two more runs in the top of the fifth inning behind a two-run two-out triple from Adams. The inning started with Ray grounding out to second before Nidiffer singled to left and after a black lineout, Wiley singled to leftfield to put two on for Adams. Adams then sent a line drive to the opposite field that hit off the top of the wall for a two-run triple. With Johnson batting and Adams at third, the ball bounced a mere six feet away from the catcher with Adams braking for the plate and scoring to give UK a 9-4 lead.
UGA scored two runs in the bottom of fifth inning after Cone started the inning with a single to center that chased Rogers from the game. Darnell would be the new UK pitcher, giving up a leadoff single to centerfield before getting a fielder’s choice at third on a great play by Glad. Brett DeLoach then singled to score Farmer and Robert Shipman then singled to score Ruiz and cut the UK lead to 9-6.
The Bulldogs tied the game at 9-9 in the sixth inning. The frame started when Verdin reached on an error by Glad and then Taylor singled to put two on and no out for Hyams, who struck out swinging. Verdin and Taylor then each stole a bag to get into scoring position for Cone, who grounded out on a high chopper to second to score Verdin. Farmer then doubled to leftfield to score Taylor and cut the UK lead to one. With Farmer at second, Ruiz singled to left to score him and tie the game.
UK loaded the bases with no outs to start the seventh inning when Black got hit by a pitch, Wiley walked and Adams singled to leftfield. After Johnson flied out to shallow rightfield, Bisson hit an infield single up the middle to score Black and give UK back the lead. Wright would plate the second run of the inning when the second baseman made a diving snap to take a hit away from Wright even though Wiley came home to score, giving UK a 11-9 lead.
UGA scored a run in the bottom of the eighth inning on a solo homer by Cone to cut the UK lead to one. The Bulldogs would tie the game when Kennedy relieved Darnell and gave up a single to Farmer, who advance to second on a wild pitch and then to third on the ground out by DeLoach. Shipman would then single through the left side to plate Farmer and tie the game at 11-11.
The Wildcats took a three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning when Glad launched a three-run homer well over the leftfield fence. The inning started when Adams singled up the middle, moving to second on the bunt by Johnson and to third when Bisson flied out to center. Wright was then hit by a pitch to put two runners on for Glad who simply crushed the offering from Moseley for a three-run blast and the UK lead.