Cats Drop Commodores for First SEC Home Win
Behind brilliant pitching performances from Scott Wade and Joseph Blanton,
the University of Kentucky baseball team defeated Vanderbilt, 6-4, for the
Cats first home Southeastern Conference win on Friday night at Cliff Hagan
Wade, who is among the conference leaders in ERA, picked up his third win
of the season by tossing seven strong innings, scattering eight hits, and
giving up only one earned run. With tonight's outing, Wade lowered his
team-best ERA to 2.87.
Blanton entered the game in the eighth inning with no outs and Vanderbilt
runners on second and third and UK clinging to a 6-4 lead, but proceeded to
strike out the side, ending the Commodores comeback threat.
With the win, UK improved to 16-21, 4-12 in the SEC. Vanderbilt fell to
17-20, 5-11 in conference play.
The Cats got on the board in the third inning when Spencer Preston homered
to center field, his sixth of the season and first since March 28. Jeff
Tolotti then was hit by a pitch and stole second base. Spencer Graeter
continued his clutch hitting by slapping a single to right field, plating
Tolotti and giving UK a 2-0 lead.
VU would respond with three unearned runs in the fourth. With two outs,
Ashley Freeman reached on an error by UK shortstop Vince Harrison, scoring
Ulises Cabrera-Valenzuela. Jonathon Kaye would make that error costly,
following with a two-run homer and putting the Commodores up 3-2.
UK battled back with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Seth Morris
doubled home Gordon Tyler, who had reached with a double of his own. Caleb
Brock followed with an RBI single that plated Morris and regained the lead
for the Big Blue.
The seesaw affair continued in the fifth with VU tying the contest on a
sacrifice RBI from Cabrera-Valenzuela. However, the tie would not remain
knotted for long as Harrison made up for his error with a two-run homer in
the bottom of the fifth.
From there, the Wade and Blanton would hold the 'Dores scoreless for the
final four innings, making the final tally 6-4 in favor of the Wildcats.
Blanton picked up his first save of the season with his relief performance.
Blanton did not allow a hit in two innings of work and struck out four
batters. The save was Blanton's first of the year, third of his career.
Despite going the distance for the Commodores, Jeff Little was saddled with
the loss. Little gave up 12 hits and six runs, all earned, in falling to
4-5 on the campaign.
Both Graeter and Brad Pickrell extended their hitting streaks to 10-games,
moving them to within one game of the longest streak any Wildcat has
enjoyed this season.
UK outhit VU 12 to eight. Pickrell, Harrison, Brock, and Preston led the
way for the Cats with two hits apiece.
Game two of the series will get underway at 2 p.m., on Saturday, April 14.
Mark Michael (2-3, 4.40 ERA) is scheduled to be on the mound for the Cats.