Locked in a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning, Luke Maile launched a one-out double into the gap and Cameron Flynn laced a game-winning RBI single up the middle, with Trevor Gott coming on in the ninth for his seventh save of the year, as No. 1 Kentucky posted a 3-2 comeback win over No. 10 Ole Miss in the series opener, extending its school-record 21-game home winning streak, on Friday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (29-2, 8-2 Southeastern Conference) extended its lead atop the conference standings with the win, claiming its school-record 21st consecutive victory at Cliff Hagan Stadium. UK has now won four consecutive SEC games against top-10 teams at home, also sweeping No. 2 South Carolina to open up conference play. The Wildcats sit alone atop the SEC standings after 10 of 30 games played in the league, with UK leading the NCAA in batting average and pacing the league in nearly every offensive category. On the year, UK owns a staggering 9-1 record in one-run games and has posted a 6-1 record against top-25 foes in 2012.
The Wildcats rallied from behind yet again to claim the win, as Ole Miss took a 2-1 lead into the sixth inning, before UK evened up the game behind Maile’s leadoff double and an RBI from Zac Zellers. The teams entered the bottom of the eighth inning in a 2-2 tie, before Maile pounded a double, scoring on Flynn’s RBI single up the middle.
Kentucky was led offensively in a seven-hit attack by Maile’s two doubles, with Flynn batting 2-for-4 with one RBI. Austin Cousino added a double, with Michael Williams and Matt Reida each adding hits, with Reida charting an RBI. UK also drew four walks, with Cousino, A.J. Reed, Zellers and J.T. Riddle adding walks. In addition to his hit and walk atop the order, Cousino totaled a career-high three outfield assists in the game, including gunning out two runners attempting to score at the plate from centerfield.
UK starter Taylor Rogers worked five innings, allowing 10 hits and two runs, not issuing a walk and striking out five. Alex Phillips (5-1) took over for Rogers in the sixth inning and turned in 3.1 strong innings, not allowing a run, walking one and striking out three. Gott took over in the ninth inning with one out and the game-tying run at second base, getting a strikeout and a groundout, dancing around a ninth-inning two-base error, to lock down his seventh save of the year. Gott now has the second-most saves in UK single-season history, with his nine career saves ranking tied for eighth in UK career history.
Ole Miss (20-9, 5-5 SEC) starter Bobby Wahl worked a season-low four innings, allowing two hits and one run, walking four and striking out two. Wahl – considered the frontrunner for SEC Pitcher of the Year – was relieved by Aaron Greenwood, who worked a strong 2.1 innings, allowing two hits and one run, striking out one. Dylan Chavez (3-2) took over for Greenwood with one down in the seventh inning, tossing 1.2 strong innings, allowing three hits and one run, striking out two.
The series will resume on Saturday, with first pitch slated for 2 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be heard 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 WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com. UK will turn to junior southpaw Jerad Grundy (3-0, 3.41 ERA) to face off with Ole Miss sophomore right-hander R.J. Hively (3-1, 1.71 ERA).
Ole Miss came out swinging in the opening game of the series as Alex Yarbrough singled through the six hole with two outs in the top of the first. Matt Snyder doubled with a line drive down the rightfield line putting runners on second and third with two outs but Rogers got out of the jam by forcing a fly out to Zellers in right field.
After the bottom half of the first in which Kentucky was unable to convert with runners in scoring position, Andrew Mistone singled in the top of the second for the Rebels with one out. Mistone advanced to second to second on a slow ground ball to third. With two outs, Blake Newalu singled up the middle with Mistone trying to score from second but was gunned at the plate by Kentucky’s Cousino to keep the Rebels scoreless through one and a half.
Kentucky threatened in the bottom of the second as Riddle got the Wildcats started with a one-out walk. Williams stepped up to the plate and delivered Kentucky’s first hit of the game with a double down the leftfield line to give the Wildcats runners at second and third with one out. Riddle crossed the plate for the first run of the game on a Reida groundball up the middle. Wahl got out of the one-out, first-and-third jam with a 6-3 double play and the Wildcats leading 1-0.
Ole Miss matched the Wildcats in the top of the third as Auston Bousfield reached on a single to the left side of the field with one out. Yarbrough followed up with a single up the middle, advancing Bousfield to third. Bousfield got the Rebels on the scoreboard after crossing the plate on a Snyder RBI, tying the game at 1-1 through two and a half.
The Rebels kept it going in the top of the fourth as Preston Overbey led off the Rebels with a single through the right side. Mistone came up big for Ole Miss, drilling an RBI double off the leftfield wall to score Overbey. With two outs, Mathis reached on an infield single to shortstop but Mistone attempted to take home on the throw to first and was thrown out by Williams leaving Ole Miss with a 2-1 lead.
Kentucky attempted to comeback in the bottom of the fourth as Flynn led off the Wildcats with their second hit of the game. Zellers walked and the runners advanced to second and third on a well-executed sacrifice bunt by Riddle. Flynn tagged from third on a Williams fly out to right but was called out on a challenge as he left early, ending the inning.
Maile got the Wildcats back in the game as he led off the bottom of the sixth with a double down the rightfield line. Maile advanced to third on a passed ball before scoring on a sacrifice fly to right by Zellers.
Mathis led off the Rebels with a single in the top of the seventh and after a single to left by Yarbrough, a misplay in leftfield led to runners advancing to second and third. Snyder flew out to center and Cousino tallied his third outfield assist of the game, gunning out Mathis at the plate.
Kentucky came up in the clutch again as Maile drilled a double to left center with one out in a tie ballgame in the bottom of the eighth. Flynn followed up with a two-out single up the middle to score Maile and give the Wildcats a 3-2 lead entering the top of the nine.
Ole Miss fought back in the bottom of the ninth, including baserunners reaching first and second with one out but Gott came in for the Wildcats, grabbing his seventh save on the year with Kentucky winning 3-2.