No. 11 Wildcats Force Tie With LSU
BATON ROUGE, La. – No. 11 Kentucky rallied for two runs in the top of the eighth inning Sunday and forced a 9-9 tie with LSU at Alex Box Stadium in a game shortened due to the Wildcats’ travel plans.
The Wildcats (23-2-1, 3-2-1 Southeastern Conference), who ended a game in a tie for the first time since forcing a 6-6 draw with Florida on April 9, 2000 at Cliff Hagan Stadium, take the series from LSU for the second consecutive season. Kentucky claimed back-to-back series from the Fighting Tigers (14-11-1, 1-4-1) for the first time since the 1991 and 1994 campaigns, as the two teams did not play in 1992 and 1993.
Kentucky, which led 7-3 after five-and-a-half innings, found itself down 9-7 after LSU combined for six runs in the sixth and seventh frames. Due to league rules involving air travel, it was predetermined that no inning was to start after 3 p.m. EDT. With the clock ticking towards 3 p.m., the Wildcats entered the eighth inning knowing it would be their final opportunity at the plate.
Jason Kipnis doubled to left field to open the eighth inning, but Billy Grace and Antone DeJesus both grounded out to bring Mike Brown, the team’s leader in batting average, to the plate with two outs. Brown singled up the middle to drive in score Kipnis and Sawyer Carroll followed with a single up the middle that advanced Brown to third. With Brown leaning towards home plate, LSU center fielder Jared Mitchell threw home, but his throw bounced off the pitcher’s mound. Tigers’ hurler Louis Coleman recovered and threw home, but Brown narrowly slid in under the tag of catcher Robert Lara to knot the score at 9.
Kentucky pitcher Duran Ferguson tossed a stellar final two innings of the game, quickly setting LSU down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh to ensure the Wildcats another opportunity to bat. He also set the Tigers down in order in the bottom of the eighth to clinch the tie, capping off the game with his second of two strikeouts on the day.
The Wildcats got a solid performance from pre-season All-America selection Greg Dombrowski. The junior right-hander worked four innings, allowing six hits and three runs, while striking out three. James Paxton, who earned the save in Saturday’s drama-filled contest, worked an inning-and-a-third before allowing four runs and giving way to Tyler Henry.
Carroll, Coughlin and Kipnis provided the majority of the Kentucky offense, as the trio each charted multi-RBI games and combined to plate seven runs.
LSU got on the scoreboard early, pushing across the first run of the contest in the opening inning after second baseman Chris McGhee singled to lead off the contest. Blake Dean’s RBI-single drove in McGhee and put the Tigers up 1-0.
Kentucky plated five runs in the third, beginning with a well-executed bunt single by DeJesus. Brown reached on a catcher’s interference call and he then teamed with DeJesus on a successful double-steal attempt. Carroll drove in DeJesus on a sacrifice fly. On the next at-bat, Sean Coughlin, the NCAA leader in RBI, launched a line drive over the right-field fence for his fifth round-tripper of the season. Matt McKinney then reached on a single and Ryan Wilkes drew a walk, setting the stage for Kipnis, the hero of Saturday’s contest. Kipnis cleared the bases with his league-leading fifth triple of the season to give UK a 5-1 advantage.
The Tigers pushed across two runs in the fourth to narrow UK’s lead to 5-3. Mitchell reached on a fielder’s choice and Steven Waguespack doubled to put two runners in scoring position for freshman Buzzy Haydel. The rookie drove in the pair with a single up the middle.
McKinney led off the fifth inning with a deep home run over the left-field fence for his second blast of the season. The Wildcats also tacked on a run in the sixth as DeJesus led off with a single up the middle and Carroll plated him with a single of his own to give UK a 7-3 lead.
LSU rallied in the sixth, loading the bases on three consecutive singles before Ryan Schimpf drove in one run with a sacrifice fly. Dean walked and Ochinko drove in two with a single. Waguespack’s three-run home run over the left-field fence highlighted the inning and allowing the Tigers to take a 9-7 advantage before Kentucky’s late-inning comeback.
Kentucky returns home to Cliff Hagan Stadium for a mid-week match-up with intra-state rival Morehead State. First pitch on Wednesday is set for 6:30 p.m. EDT.
Team Records and Series Notes