LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Jake Wise’s homer to lead off the fifth inning lifted No. 14 Arkansas to a 2-1 win over No. 23 Kentucky in the series opener on a pleasant Friday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (26-18, 9-13 Southeastern Conference) and the Razorbacks – the NCAA ‘s leader in ERA – battled in a pitching duel to open the series. After a scoreless first four innings, Wise opened the scoring with a solo homer in the fifth and Matt Vinson singled home a second run in the frame with two outs.
UK rallied to load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the sixth but was only able to scrap out one run for the final margin, with the Razorbacks claiming their sixth consecutive win.
The Wildcats finished with seven hits and four walks, getting hit by two pitches and leaving a total of 11 runners on base. Junior J.T. Riddle had a team-best 3-for-4 game and UK also got hits from Kyle Barrett, A.J. Reed, Zac Zellers and Paul McConkey.
A native of Terre Haute, Ind., Reed (2-6) took the hard-luck loss in his seventh quality start of the year. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound southpaw worked 7.1 innings, allowing seven hits and two runs, striking out five. Sophomore righty Chandler Shepherd came on and worked 1.2 shutout innings in relief.
Arkansas (31-15, 14-7 SEC) starter Barrett Astin (4-2) – the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week – worked 5.2 innings, allowing five hits and one run, walking three and striking out four. Lefty Trent Daniel came on in a two-out jam in the sixth, working one inning, allowing one hit and one walk, striking out one. Righty Brandon Moore came on in the seventh with two outs, working out of a jam to toss a shutout frame into the eighth. Lefty Jalen Beeks got a key out in the eighth and closer Colby Suggs picked up his ninth save of the year in the ninth inning.
The series will now conclude on Saturday with a doubleheader, set for 12 p.m. ET. The first game will be televised by the UK IMG Network and will be tape delayed to 7 p.m. ET on Fox Sports South. The games will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans can hear the games live on WLAP 630-AM in Central Kentucky, WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville and online at UKathletics.com.
Following four scoreless innings, Arkansas jumped out to a lead with two runs in the top of the fifth. Wise led off the inning with a solo homer over the rightfield wall for the first run of the evening. Jacob Mahan followed with a single to rightfield and moved into scoring position on sacrifice bunt from Brett McAfee. With two outs, Vinson singled through the left side to score Mahan from second and increase the Arkansas lead to 2-0.
Kentucky got one back in the bottom of the sixth to cut the Arkansas lead to one run. Reed opened the inning with a line-drive single into rightfield and a Zellers walk put two runners on for Kentucky. Riddle dropped a bunt down the third-base line for a base hit, loading the bases with no outs. Greg Fettes delivered with the bases loaded, reaching first on a fielder’s choice, enabling Reed to come home and score UK’s first run of the game. Arkansas got out of the jam with only one run surrendered, striking out one and forcing a groundout for the third out.