Auburn All-American first baseman Hunter Morris capped a two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning with a two-out RBI single into rightfield, lifting the 29th-ranked Tigers to a walk-off win over the Kentucky Wildcats, securing the series for the Tigers with a 6-5 win, in front of 2,518 fans on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon at Plainsman Park.
Kentucky (23-17, 6-12 Southeastern Conference) took the lead with a run in the top of the seventh inning but Auburn tied up the game with a run in the bottom of the seventh and Morris finished the rally with a walk-off single.
UK evened up the series with a dramatic win in game one of the doubleheader Sunday afternoon, posting an 8-7 win in a game that was tied or saw the lead change hands 10 times in the contest. Due to SEC travel policy, the second game was seven innings. UK was one inning away from winning the series, before Auburn’s heroics in the bottom of the seventh.
Catcher Ryan Jenkins led off the bottom of the seventh inning with Auburn trailing one run, with a bat-handle single with two strikes in no-man’s land down the right-field line. After a Justin Hargett sacrifice bunt moved pinch runner Creede Simpson to second base, Justin Fradejas delivered the game-tying RBI single, a line-drive knock into right-centerfield, scoring Simpson. After UK starter Taylor Rogers got Trent Mummey to pop out for the second out, UK turned to submarine right-hander Nick Kennedy out of the pen. Kennedy induced Brian Fletcher into a ground ball into the hole on the left side of the infield, with UK third baseman Andy Burns not having a play on Fletcher at first. Kennedy then got Morris, a left-handed hitter, down to a 0-2 count but the All-American delivered with a base knock right in front of UK’s Chad Wright in rightfield, handing Auburn the walk-off win.
UK starter Taylor Rogers (4-5) turned in a gutty performance on the mound, going 6.2 innings, allowing eight hits and six runs, walking one and striking out five. Rogers tossed five scoreless innings, allowing only a four-run inning in the bottom of the second inning and the decisive runs in the bottom of the seventh. Rogers had his streak of 35 consecutive innings without issuing a walk snapped with a walk in the second inning.
The Wildcats got another stellar performance at the plate from junior Lance Ray, who hit his fourth home run of the season and added his seventh double of the year – his fifth two-bagger of the series. Ray finished 2-for-3 with three RBI, all coming on a game-tying homer in the top of the sixth inning. Wright, Chris Bisson, Gunner Glad and Keenan Wiley each contributed hits.
Auburn (27-14, 10-8 SEC) starter Grant Dayton went 6.1 innings, allowing six hits and five runs, walking one and striking out six. Dayton was relieved by Sean Ray, who threw one pitch and hit a batter, before turning it over to closer Austin Hubbard (4-2), who picked up the win by getting the final two outs in the top of the seventh.
UK returns to action Wednesday, traveling to No. 11 Louisville at 6 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast 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. UK shutout the Cardinals in the first of the two meetings in the series in 2010, 5-0.
Auburn found the scoreboard first in the bottom of the second inning, plating four runs on four hits to take a 4-0 lead. Morris led off the inning with a line drive to rightfield, with UK’s rightfielder, Wright, climbing the fence to bring the ball back in play, with it bouncing out of his glove and going as a triple. Tony Caldwell scored Morris with an RBI groundout and then Casey McElroy lined a single into rightfield. Wes Gilmer followed and singled up the middle for the catcher, Jenkins. Jenkins got into a ball and rode the wind for his second homer of the year, with the ball carrying over the right-centerfield fence for a three-run homer.
UK got on the board in the top of the fourth inning, as Wright drew a walk to lead off and after Glad popped out, Ray peppered the 30-foot wall in leftfield, for his seventh double of the season and the fifth two bagger of the series. Wiley scored Wright with a sacrifice fly to left-centerfield.
The Wildcats evened up the game with three runs on three hits in the top of the sixth. Wright led off the inning with a first-pitch single ripped into leftfield. Glad then got hit by a pitch to bring up Ray. Ray crushed the offering from Dayton deep over the right-centerfield fence for his fourth homer of the season and his sixth extra-base hit of the series, evening up the game at 4-4.
UK took a one-run lead with a run in the top of the seventh. After Andy Burns popped up to leadoff, Bisson belted a double off the 30-foot wall in leftfield for a double. That ended the game for Dayton, with left-handed pitcher Sean Ray called upon to face Wright. The first pitch Ray tossed hit Wright, ending Ray’s game and bringing in the closer, Hubbard. Bisson and Wright then executed a double steal to put both runners in scoring position for Glad. Glad hung a sacrifice fly into shallow centerfield, giving UK a 5-4 lead.