No. 4 UK Completes Sweep of Bama
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Senior second baseman Ryan Wilkes belted his third home run in as many games, as the No. 4 Kentucky baseball team notched a 5-1 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide, securing the sweep in the first Southeastern Conference series of the season.
The sweep marks UK?s first SEC-opening sweep since the 1996 season, when UK swept a series with Ole Miss. The win completes the Wildcats first sweep over Alabama since the 1992 season.
Wilkes and Carroll led the way for the Wildcats, with Carroll finishing the day a perfect 2-for-2, with two runs scored, two RBI and two walks. For the year, Carroll is batting .532 (33-for-62), with eight doubles, a triple, seven homers, and 32 RBI, drawing a team-best 17 walks to just seven strikeouts. Wilkes finished the game 1-for-3, with a walk.
For the week, Wilkes batted .500 (12-for-24), with a double, three homers and four RBI, stealing one base and drawing five walks. On the year, Wilkes is batting .512 (22-for-43), with four doubles and nine RBI.
As typical with a John Cohen-coached offense, the Wildcats drew seven walks, including two from Carroll and Collin Cowgill ? with five of the walks appearing to be intentional.
On the mound, UK got another consistent performance from senior right hander Greg Dombrowski (4-0). Dombrowski, a member of the national pitcher of the year watch list, improved his career record to 21-4, boosting his school record career winning percentage. The Rome, N.Y., native worked 5 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and one run - a solo homer - striking out five. A sinkerballer, Dombrowski forced Alabama into 11 groundouts while on the bump, using a stellar UK defense ? fielding at a .975 clip ? to silence the Crimson Tide bats.
Alabama (9-8, 0-3 SEC) starter Austin Graham took the loss, working six innings and allowing six hits and four earned runs, striking out five and walking a total of seven Wildcats. Graham, who entered the game with a 0.00 ERA, drops to 1-1 on the year.
Kentucky (18-0, 3-0 SEC) returns to action on Tuesday, looking to tie the school mark for the longest winning streak and the best start to a season, set last year when UK ran up a 19-0 start to the season. UK will face Morehead State Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, with the game being televised live on the Big Blue Sports Network, with veteran sportscaster Dick Gabriel and former Wildcat great Doug Flynn calling the action. The Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, will call the action on the radio, in Lexington on WXRA 1580-AM and in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM.
UK got on the board at its first opportunity, plating two runs on a two-run homer from Carroll. After both Keenan Wiley and Cowgill tattooed line drives right at defenders, Brian Spear coaxed a four-pitch walk. Carroll followed, lofting a line-drive homer over the party deck in right-centerfield for his seventh homer of the year.
In the third, UK added a run, beginning when designated hitter Bryan Rose laid down a bunt past the pitcher on the first base side of the diamond, legging it out for a leadoff hit. Wiley sacrificed him over to second, with Rose scoring on a throwing error charged to the Alabama catcher, Mike Sharp.
UK continued a trend of plating a run in each inning, pushing one across in the fourth. Wilkes pounded a first-pitch offering from Graham to centerfield, landing just on the other side of the fence, in between the batters eye and the party deck in right-center. This marks the second time this season that a UK player has ripped homers in three consecutive games, a Carroll accomplished the feat earlier this season in four straight games.
Alabama got its run in the fifth, on a solo homer from first baseman Matt Bentley. Bentley crushed the first pitch he saw from Dombrowski, hitting the scoreboard in left-centerfield. After the bounce, it appeared to skip off the yellow marking on top of the outfield wall. Cowgill, who got high in the air to attempt to rob Bentley of the homer, picked up the ball as it bounced back into the field and fired to third base. Third base umpire Donald Gilmore was close to the left-field line and the homer was hit to left-center but Gilmore missed the play, initially ruling that the ball was a double and the play was live. McClendon tagged out Bentley as he trotted around the bases and Gilmore signaled that he was out on the play, which immediately required an umpire conference. Crew chief Jack Cox overruled Gilmore, declaring that the ball hit the scoreboard for a homer before landing back in play.
Later in the inning, with two outs and centerfielder Alex Kubal at the plate, Dombrowski plunked Kubal with a pitch on the leg. Home plate umpire Fred Cannon immediately ruled that Kubal leaned into the pitch, calling the junior back to the batters box. That ruling insighted a feverish appeal from the entire Alabama coaching staff, with first base coach Mitch Gaspard earning an ejection.
In the fifth, UK added a run beginning with Carroll?s eighth double of the year down the right-field line. McClendon moved him to third with a bunt and Marcus Nidiffer scored him with a sacrifice fly to centerfield.