For the second time in the series, the No. 9 Kentucky baseball team blew a lead in the seventh inning, falling in the series finale to No. 11 Georgia 6-4, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Foley Field. Georgia’s sweep of Kentucky marks the first sweep allowed by the Wildcats since the 2005 season, a conference best.
Kentucky (26-8, 7-8 Southeastern Conference) blew two one-run leads during the series in the seventh inning to the SEC front runner, blowing a 2-1 lead on Friday night and falling 3-2 in the opener.
UK’s four total hits in the game marked a season low. UK’s previous season-low for hits was on Saturday, when the Wildcats collected seven hits. The Wildcats were led at the plate by home runs from Sawyer Carroll and Ryan Wilkes. Wilkes, Carroll, Chris Wade and Keenan Wiley were the only UK player to collect hits, despite chasing the Georgia starter after three innings.
Kentucky’s three-game losing skid marks its first three-game losing streak since 2007, when it dropped a Sunday game at Mississippi State, before falling in a doubleheader to Tennessee.
UK got a solid pitching performance from its senior Sunday starter Greg Dombrowski, who left the game with the lead. Dombrowski worked 4 2/3 innings, allowing nine hits and three runs, striking out one and walking zero. Wildcat sophomore reliever James Paxton took the loss, giving up the two decisive runs in the seventh. Paxton allowed three hits, walked two and struck out one. Brock Baber, Andrew Albers and Tyler Howe closed out the game for the Wildcats.
Georgia (23-12, 12-3 SEC) ranks as the league frontrunner, winning eight consecutive conference games. Last weekend, UGA swept the then ninth-ranked South Carolina.
Kentucky returns to action on Tuesday, traveling to Cincinnati for a mid-week tilt with the Bearcats. First pitch Tuesday is slated for 6:30 p.m. ET.
Kentucky got on the board at its first opportunity, as Wilkes led off coaxing a walk out of Moreau. Carroll gave UK a 2-0 lead early, belting his 10th home run of the season over the left-centerfield fence. Carroll’s second homer in as many days extends his hit streak to a team-best nine games.
After Dombrowski got through the first four hitters in the first inning unscathed, Georgia got a run on one hit to narrow the lead to 2-1 in the second. Bryce Massanari led off with a single bouncing up the middle, moving to second on what appeared to be a hit and run in which batter Lyle Allen failed to make contact on a breaking ball in the dirt. Allen grounded out to move Massanari to third, scoring after Matt Cerinone hit a grounder in between Wilkes and Brian Spear on the right-side of the infield, beating the attempted double play throw from Chris Wade at first.
Wilkes led off the third inning, with a majestic solo home run over the left-field fence, his fifth of the year, all coming in SEC play.
In the fifth, UK added to its lead, as Collin Cowgill led off with a walk, moving into scoring position with his team-best 15th steal of the year. After Brian Spear drew a walk and Chris McClendon got hit by a pitch to load the bases, Troy Frazier scored Cowgill with a sacrifice fly to right.
Georgia narrowed the UK lead with two runs in the fifth, chasing Dombrowski from the game. Michael Demperio led off with a single to right field. The next hitter, leadoff man Ryan Peisel, hit into a fielders choice, with Demperio out on the play. Shortstop Gordon Beckham, the NCAA leader in home runs, scored Peisel with his 16th home run of the season, a shot to dead-centerfield.
The Bulldogs got to the UK bullpen again in the series, taking a lead late in the game. After Paxton got Peisel to fly out, Matt Olson singled to left field. Beckham grounded out for the second out, but Paxton walked back to back batters, with Olson scoring the game-tying run on a wild pitch. Lyle Allen gave UGA the lead with a slow roller at Wade, who could not make the play to get out of the inning.