Kentucky erased a nine-run deficit to take a lead into the eighth inning but could not close out No. 2 Vanderbilt after a long rain delay, falling 16-10 at Kentucky Proud Park in the opener of the final regular season series of the season.
The game was delayed two hours and four minutes by a storm system that brought rain and lightning to the area. Just before the weather arrived the Wildcats (26-27, 7-21) delivered a five-run seventh inning that capped 10 consecutive runs that turned a 9-0 deficit into a lead.
During the comeback, the Cats got to Vanderbilt starter Drake Fellows, who entered the game with a spotless 10-0 record, for five runs before touching up the Commodores’ bullpen for five more. Senior outfielder Ryan Johnson’s two-run single to left field became a three-run scoring play to give UK the lead when senior infielder Alex Rodriguez scampered home from third while Johnson was in a rundown between first and second base.
Rain and lightning hit the stadium in the top of the eighth inning with Vanderbilt runners on the corners and one out, delaying the game for just over two hours before restarting at 11:20 p.m. ET. Sophomore right-hander Daniel Harper coaxed a popup for the second out before Philip Clarke connected for a two-run triple off the base of the centerfield wall just out of the reach of the outstretch glove of a leaping Cam Hill to provide a lead the ‘Dores would not relinquish.
Despite the defeat the Cats remain tied with Alabama and South Carolina for the final berth in next week’s Southeastern Conference Tournament with two games to play.
Top 1st – Austin Martin doubled to RC and advanced to third on JJ Bleday’s flyout. Ethan Paul walked. Philip Clarke singled up the middle, scoring Martin. Pat DeMarco singled to RF, scoring Paul. Stephen Scott hit a three-run homer to RF. Vandy 5, UK 0.
Top 2nd – Julian Infante and Martin singled. Paul was hit by pitch to load the bases. Clarke grounded into a fielder’s choice, Infante scored, Martin to third. DeMarco singled to CF, scoring Martin. Vandy 7, UK 0.
Top 3rd – Scott homered to RF. Harrison Ray singled to 3B, moved to second on a balk and scored on Ty Duvall’s single through the right side. Vandy 9, UK 0.
Bottom 4th – Ryan Shinn and Dalton Reed singled. Jaren Shelby doubled off the LCF wall, scoring Shinn and moving Reed to third. Zeke Lewis laid down a squeeze bunt to score Reed. Vandy 9, UK 2.
Bottom 6th – Coltyn Kessler homered to RF. Shinn and Lewis walked. Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run double to CF. Vandy 9, UK 5.
Bottom 7th – Curtis doubled, Kessler was hit by a pitch and Shinn walked. Shelby hit a SAC fly to RF, scoring Curtis and moving Kessler to third. Lewis walked to load the bases. Ryan Johnson singled to LF, scoring Kessler and Shinn, Rodriguez scored while Johnson was caught in a rundown. UK 10, Vandy 9.
Top 8th – Martin was hit by a pitch. Bleday blooped a single to CF, Martin to third. Clarke tripled off the CF wall, scoring Martin and Bleday. Vandy 11, UK 10.
Top 9th – Scott doubled to RF to open the inning. Ray doubled inside the 1B bag against drawn in infield, scoring Scott. Duvall singled to LF, scoring Ray. Kiambu Fentress pinch ran, advanced to second on an errant pickoff throw and scored on Martin’s single to CF. Bleday walked. Paul reached on a fielding error and advanced to second on a second fielding error, Martin and Bleday scored. Vandy 16, UK 10.
· Kentucky has scored in 117 consecutive games and 193 of the past 194 dating to the 2016 season. The lone shutout came in a seven-inning game. The current streak is the second-longest in school history.
· Sophomore C/INF Coltyn Kessler had a solo home run, giving him an RBI in nine of the last 10 games and 10 of the last 12.
o Kessler has reached base safely in 12 consecutive games.
o Kessler scored two runs, tying his career high.
· Senior OF Ryan Shinn matched a career high with three runs scored.
· Sophomore RHP Trip Lockhart made the first start of his career on the mound.
Kentucky and Vanderbilt tee it up again at Kentucky Proud Park on Friday night. First pitch is at 6:30 p.m. ET on the SEC Network Plus. Darren Headrick will have the radio call on the UK Sports Network.
‑ GO CATS –
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