ATHENS, Ga. -- Facing a 6-0 hole in the seventh inning, No. 2 Kentucky rallied to plate six runs and even the game, before allowing a two-out RBI double from Hunter Cole in the bottom of the seventh inning, with No. 18 Georgia holding on for a 7-6 win in the series opener of the first game of a doubleheader, on a cloudy Saturday afternoon at Foley Field.
After the opener was rained out on Friday night, the doubleheader was slated for Saturday, with first pitch at 12 p.m. ET, with the finale following at 4 p.m. ET.
Kentucky (25-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) suffered its second consecutive series-opening loss on the road, also falling in the opener at Tennessee last weekend. UK entered the seventh inning in a 6-0 hole, before rallying to tie the game with six runs in the top of the seventh. Georgia answered with a two-out RBI double from Cole in the bottom of the seventh, with UGA closer Blake Dieterich closing out the game for his fifth save of the year with the final six outs.
UK starter Taylor Rogers allowed nine hits and six runs in 5.1 innings, not issuing a walk and striking out five. Sam Mahar (1-1) replaced Rogers in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and one out, getting two outs to get out of the inning, before walking the first hitter he faced in the bottom of the seventh, ending his outing with one run allowed. Alex Phillips replaced Mahar in the seventh, getting two outs in the seventh, before a two-out double allowed the run credited to Mahar to score. Phillips worked the final two innings, allowing two hits and no runs.
The Wildcats totaled 11 hits in the game, with all of their run production coming in the seventh inning. UK got two-hit games from A.J. Reed, Thomas McCarthy, Austin Cousino and Matt Reida, with Cousino launching a three-run homer in the seventh, his fourth homer of the year and his third consecutive game with a bomb. UK also got hits from Luke Maile, Lucas Witt and Michael Williams.
Georgia’s (18-9, 4-3 SEC) starter Wood was dominating through his first six innings, before running into trouble in the seventh. Wood worked 6.1 innings, allowing seven hits and four runs, walking two and striking out five. Wood entered the start owning a 3-1 record and a 2.00 ERA, allowing only three walks and eight runs, striking out 39 in his 36 frames. Bryan Benzor (4-1) took over for Wood in the seventh, getting the final two outs of the inning, allowing three hits and two runs. Dieterich closed out the game for his fifth save of the year, ending the contest on a double play in the ninth.
The twinbill will resume later on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET at Foley Field. The game will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with the Voice UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on WGVN 1580-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com. The game will also be televised live on Fox Sports South, with Dave Neal and Larry Conley on the call.
The Bulldogs took advantage of a pair of high chopping infield hits and a two-out triple to plate two runs in the bottom of the second inning. Brett DeLoach led off with a single bounced high in the air to the left side, with Reida waiting for the ball to sail down before making his throw, with DeLoach beating the play at first. After a strikeout of Colby May, DeLoach stole his first base of the year to move into scoring position, with Kevin Ruiz popping out in foul ground. That brought speedy centerfielder Conor Welton to the plate, who also chopping an infield hit up the middle, just beating the throw from Reida, who fielding the high chopper on the right side of the second base bag. Peter Verdin then delivered the big hit, lacing a triple down the rightfield line to score the duo and give UGA a 2-0 lead.
Georgia extended its lead to 3-0 with a two-out homer from leftfielder Hunter Cole in the bottom of the third inning. The homer was Cole’s team-leading fifth of the year and extended his hitting streak to a career-long 10 games.
The Bulldogs got to Rogers in the sixth inning, getting four consecutive hits, a walk and a sacrifice fly with one out to take a 6-0 lead. After getting Kyle Farmer to leadoff with a groundout, Cole blooped a single down the line off the end of his bat. DeLoach then ripped a single through the left side to bring up Colby May. May got jammed and muscled the pitch into shallow rightfield for another bloop single, loading the bases for Kevin Ruiz. Ruiz then smacked a single to centerfield to score Cole and leave the bases juiced. With a 1-2 count on Welton, UK turned to Mahar, who walked the hitter with the bases loaded to force in a run. UGA then added a sacrifice fly from Verdin to make it 6-0 Georgia.
The Wildcats got on the board in the seventh inning, as Witt reached on a high chopping infield single over the mound. Williams then ripped a single into the hole on the left side with Witt taking third after an off balance throw to first base. The return throw to third sailed wide, allowing Witt to scamper home for the first UK run of the game. Reida followed with a single through the left side, to put two runners on for Cousino. Cousino delivered, pounding a three-run homer to the right-centerfield fence, his fourth homer of the year and his third consecutive game with a jack. After a hard-hit groundout from pinch hitter Cameron Flynn, Maile reached on an infield single. Reed then ripped a single to left field to bring up McCarthy. McCarthy ripped a double into the gap to score Maile and push Reed to third. With Riddle at the plate, Reed took advantage of a wild pitch, scoring the sixth UK run of the inning to tie the game.
GAME NOTES: With a first-inning walk, freshman centerfielder Austin Cousino has reached base safely in 25 of his 26 career collegiate games … A.J. Reed has reached base safely in 19 consecutive games after singling in his first at bat … Reed has reached base safely in all 25 of his starting assignments and in 25 of 26 career NCAA games … With a single in the third inning, Thomas McCarthy has now reached base safely in 17 consecutive games … Taylor Rogers started UK’s 17th double play of the year in the third inning, going 1-6-3 … Cousino belted a three-run homer in the seventh inning his fourth homer of the year … Cousino has now homered in three consecutive games … McCarthy doubled for the sixth time in 2012.