LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Despite the first career multi-homer game from junior center fielder Keenan Wiley and two RBI from first baseman Gunner Glad, the Kentucky baseball team dropped the series opener, 7-4 – the first game of a twin-bill – on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The two teams will meet in the second game of the doubleheader at 7 p.m. ET, with the game televised live by the Big Blue Sports Network, with Dick Gabriel, Doug Flynn and Ryan Lemond on the call. The game will be televised regionally on Fox Sports South, locally on Insight Lexington channel 52 or on C-WKYT on Insight Lexington channel 5. The game can also be heard live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM and in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM.
Kentucky (18-14, 4-9 Southeastern Conference) dropped its fifth consecutive game and its fourth straight SEC contest. UK was again victim of the big-run inning, allowing the three decisive runs as part of a fifth inning, after getting a run in the bottom of the fourth to even the game at 3-3. UGA added a run to its lead in the ninth, pushing across a run on a double steal with first and third. UK threatened with runners on the corners and one out in the bottom of the ninth, but UGA closer Dean Weaver notched his team-best sixth save of the season.
Freshman Alex Meyer got the start, working 4.2 innings, allowing six runs – five earned – while striking out six and walking a career high seven. Junior right-hander Tyler Henry twirled a gem out of the bullpen, hurling the final 4.1 frames, with three hits allowed, one run and six strikeouts.
Georgia (27-6, 9-4 SEC) ace right-hander, senior Trevor Holder, got his sixth win of the season with 5.1 innings, allowing eight hits and four runs, walking three and striking out four. UGA used Michael Palazzone, Will Harvil and Weaver to close out the contest, each working at least a scoreless inning.
Offensively, Glad tallied a game-high three hits, while adding two RBI. Wiley’s first and second homers of the year came after 111 homerless at bats to begin the year. The Madison Central High School product finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI, with both of his outs recorded on hard-hit line drives to right field. Freshman Chad Wright added a 2-for-3 game with a walk, while lead-off man Chris Bisson notched a 2-for-5 afternoon.
The Bulldogs took an early lead in the top of the first inning, plating one run on one hit. Outfielder Johnathan Taylor led off working a full-count walk, moving to second on a stolen base. After Matt Cerione’s ground out moved Taylor to third, the NCAA RBI leader, first baseman Rich Poythress singled up the middle, scoring Taylor. Meyer got out of the jam with back-to-back strikeouts of Lyle Allen and Joey Lewis.
UK nabbed the lead with two runs on three hits in the third inning, taking an early 2-1 lead. After Andy Burns led off with a ground out, Wright reached on a push bunt single. Bisson followed with an infield single and after Chris Wade’s fly out moved Wright to third and Chris McClendon’s walk loaded the bags, Glad ripped a two-out single into center field, scoring Wright and Bisson. Of Glad’s 22 RBI on the year, 14 have come with two out.
Georgia reclaimed the lead with two runs on two hits in the fourth, as Meyer issued a lead-off walk to catcher Bryce Massanari. The next pitch Meyer threw to right-fielder Lyle Allen was sent on a line-drive over the right-field fence, just over the 10-foot high wall, sneaking over the 310-foot right-field fence. The homer was Allen’s third of the year.
The Wildcats responded in the bottom of the fourth inning, getting Wiley’s first homer of the year, a no-doubt jack over the right-field fence, evening it at 3-3.
Georgia took the lead with three runs on two hits and a UK error in the fifth inning. Cerione led off with a hard-hit single into center field, stealing his first base of the year to move to second. Poythress drew his first walk of the game and Massanari followed with his third consecutive walk. Allen lofted a line-drive into right field, scoring Cerione with a sacrifice fly. After Lewis popped up to second, Colby May drew a walk to load the bags. With Poythress at third, Marcus Nidiffer tried to throw behind the runner on a pick-off attempt, but his throw sailed into left field, allowing Poythress to score. Levi Hyams then dribbled a two-strike offering from Henry down the third-base line, with McClendon thinking it will roll foul, but the ball kept rolling and rolled along the chalked foul line into left field, allowing Massanari to score and Hyams to record an RBI double.
Wiley, a native of Richmond, Ky., narrowed the UGA lead to 6-4 with his second homer of the game, a round-tripper pulled over the right-field fence. Wiley’s second homer of the year marked his first career multi-homer game, equaling his 2008 home run total in two at bats.
Georgia added to its lead in the ninth, stretching its advantage to 7-4 with one run. After Henry got Poythress to line out to right, he walked Massanari for the fourth time in the game. Allen ripped a single into the right-center field gap, allowing Massanari to move to third. With a 0-1 count, UGA sent Allen from first base and while caught in a run down between first and second, Massanari slipped home for a double steal, as Wade’s throw home was wide of the plate.