Cats fall in Georgia

ATHENS, Ga. -- Senior right fielder Sawyer Carroll was a perfect 3-for-3 at the dish with his ninth homer of the season, but the No. 9 Kentucky baseball team could not overcome nine Georgia runs in the first two innings, dropping the series to the 11th-ranked Bulldogs 13-4, on an overcast Saturday afternoon in front of 3,399 fans at Foley Field.

Kentucky (26-6, 7-7 Southeastern Conference) lost the series to the SEC front-runner, after losing a 3-2 series opener on Friday. The Wildcats will seek to remain the only team in the conference to avoid being swept over the past three years, when they face off with Georgia on getaway day, with first pitch Sunday coming at 2 p.m. ET.

Fans can catch the game live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. In Lexington, the game can be heard on WLAP 630-AM and in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM.

Carroll, one of UK’s National Player of the Year award candidates, went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI, drawing a walk in his final plate appearance of the day. Carroll, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound senior, added a single and a double to his homer, coming just a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. His ninth homer of the season came in the fourth inning, a leadoff blast to the deepest part of the park, dead centerfield. Riding a team-best seven-game hit streak, Carroll ranks as the SEC leader in batting average, hitting for a .462 average.

UK starter Scott Green took the loss, giving up nine runs – five earned - in just two innings. Green allowed eight hits, walked two and struck out two. UK sophomore right-hander Tyler Henry pitched well in relief, eating up five innings, allowing six hits, two runs and striking out one. Logan Darnell finished off the game, allowing two runs, one earned, in the final frame.

Georgia (22-12, 11-3 SEC) starter Stephen Dodson picked up the win, working seven innings and allowing four runs, two earned, striking out two Wildcats. Nick Montgomery came on in relief, keeping UGA’s 38 1/3 inning-streak alive without allowing an earned run from the bullpen.

The Bulldogs got five runs on four hits and two errors in the first, as Ryan Piesel led off hitting a hard grounder at Wade, who booted the ball for his first error of the game. Matt Olson followed ripping a double into the right-field gap. Gordon Beckham was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Rich Poythress scored Piesel with a single through the left side. Bryce Massanari followed with a two-run single to centerfield. After five Georgia hitters reached base to lead off the game, UK finally got an out in the first inning, as Lyle Allen sacrificed. Joey Lewis scored two more with a single to left field, with one run scored after Keenan Wiley made his second error of the season in as many games in leftfield.

In the second inning, Georgia led off again with a hitter reaching on an error, another charged to Wade, who entered the game fielding at a .972 clip, riding a 10-game streak without commiting an error. Piesel doubled to right field and Olson scored two with a single. Beckham doubled for the second time in as many official plate appearances in the series. Poythress and Massanari scored two more runs with a walk and a grounded double play, giving UGA a 9-0 lead after just two innings.

Henry got UK through the third unscathed before giving up a solo home run from Poythress to lead off the fourth.

Kentucky attempted to get back in the game with three runs on two hits and a Georgia error in the sixth, as Chris McClendon led off with a single up the middle. Carroll scored McClendon with a double down the left-field line. Collin Cowgill reached on an error and came around to score after Ryan Wilkes hung a foul ball deep down the left-field line. On the sacrifice fly from Wilkes, Allen, UGA’s left-fielder, was tracking the ball and made the grab as he went tumbling into the UK bullpen, falling over the wall while making the spectacular play.

The Bulldogs tacked on a run in the seventh, getting two runs on two hits.

Georgia got two more runs on zero hits and an error in the eighth, as Olson and Beckham led off with walks. Wade misfired on a ground ball deep in the six hole, attempting to get Olson at third for the first out of the inning. After Olson scored on a wild pitch, Massanari hung a sacrifice fly into center for the final run of the game.