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Kentucky uses long ball to power past No. 1 LSU late and capture series rubber match

Kentucky got home runs in the ninth and 11th innings Sunday to win the rubber match over top-ranked LSU (UK Athletics Photo)

Kentucky got home runs in the ninth and 11th innings Sunday to win the rubber match over top-ranked LSU (UK Athletics Photo)


After Riley Mahan belted a pinch-hit, inside-the-park homer with two outs in the ninth inning to tie the game, Greg Fettes ripped a solo home run to open the 11th inning, lifting Kentucky to a wild 12-10 win over No. 1 LSU in the series rubber match, on Sunday in front of 10,732 at Alex Box Stadium.

The series win marks Kentucky’s second all-time series win at LSU and UK’s first since 2007. UK entered the weekend having had only seven wins in program history in Baton Rouge and the Tigers owning a seven-game winning streak in Alex Box vs. the Wildcats. UK posted a 6-5 win in the opener in 12 innings, before LSU had an inside-the-park homer in the eighth inning to win the second game, 7-3.

Kentucky (18-10, 4-5 Southeastern Conference) jumped out to an early lead on the strength of a four-run frame in the second that saw the Wildcats chase LSU’s undefeated starting pitcher. The Tigers then chipped away with two runs in the third and hung a four-run inning in the fifth, getting a pair of homers. LSU added two runs in the seventh inning, before the Wildcats mounted a furious rally with a run in the seventh and four runs in the eighth inning to take a one-run lead.

The Tigers then plated two runs after a pair of leadoff hits started the bottom of the eighth inning, taking a 10-9 lead into the ninth.

Down to its last out, freshman pinch hitter Riley Mahan dropped a sinking liner into shallow leftfield, with leftfielder Jared Foster diving to try to make the play. The ball rolled to the wall, with shortstop Alex Bregman running to the wall and unable to field and make the throw in time to nail the tying run, with Mahan sliding in headfirst under the tag.

After scoreless frames in the bottom of the ninth and the 10th inning, Fettes pulled his third homer of the year over the leftfield fence, giving UK an 11-10 lead. Marcus Carson then laid down a bunt single and Kyle Barrett was intentionally walked. After Evan White struck out, Ka’ai Tom singled up the middle, allowing Carson to motor home from second for a 12-10 UK lead.

The Wildcats collected 19 hits in the game, getting the first career home run from junior Dorian Hairston, part of a two-hit game. Tom and Thomas Bernal also charted multi-hit games, with Zach Arnold and Connor Heady adding knocks. White had a career-high four hits and extended his hitting streak to a team-leading 11 games.

Mahan’s inside-the-park homer was his first career home run. Carson tied his career high with three hits. Fettes belted his third homer of the year and his first since a two-homer day on to open the 2015 season.

UK starter Kyle Cody allowed eight hits and six runs – five earned – not issuing a walk and striking out three. Cody was dominating until a bad-hop double and his throwing error in the third inning led to the two-run frame. After a shutout fourth, the Tigers had four consecutive hitters reach in the fifth, including two homers and a triple. Dylan Dwyer relieved Cody and worked 1.1 innings, allowing a hit and walk, striking out one.

Robert Zeigler took over with an out in the seventh inning, getting one out and allowing an unearned run. Zach Strecker got out of the seventh and allowed three hits in the eighth before UK turned to Spencer Jack (1-0), with two runs scoring. Jack worked the final 3.2 innings in heroic fashion, allowing only a hit, walking two and striking out three.

LSU (23-5, 5-4 SEC) starter Jake Godfrey worked 1.2 innings, allowing six hits and four runs, walking one and striking out two.

UK will return to action on Tuesday, playing host to No. 24 Indiana at 4 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

LSU blanks Wildcats to avoid series sweep
University of Kentucky junior pitcher Kelsey Nunley recorded a season-best nine strikeouts against one of the nation’s best offensive teams, but No. 1 LSU got seven shutout innings in the circle from sophomore pitcher Baylee Corbello, lifting the Tigers to a 2-0 win, avoiding the three-game Southeastern Conference series sweep at John Cropp Stadium on Sunday.

Kentucky (23-9, 3-6 SEC) claimed the series over highly ranked LSU (32-3, 6-3 SEC) with victories in the first two games. The Wildcats posted a 3-1 triumph Friday, marking its first-ever victory over a No. 1-ranked team, before a 5-2 come-from-behind win on Saturday to claim its first SEC series win of the season.


UK is the only team in the SEC this season to face three ranked foes in its first three league series with two of those teams ranked top 10 nationally.

The Wildcats posted strong numbers offensively and as a pitching staff against LSU, which entered the series ranked second in the nation in lowest ERA at 1.30 and fifth nationally in highest team batting average at .365. The LSU pitching staff had allowed three-plus runs in seven games entering the series with UK achieving that both Friday and Saturday.

UK also posted six hits Friday and eight hits Saturday, marking only the eighth and ninth times this season the LSU staff had allowed six-plus hits in a game. The only other team to score three or more runs against LSU this season in back-to-back games was No. 2 Florida, the defending national champions.

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Senior catcher Griffin Joiner led Kentucky by going 4-for-10 in the game with a home run and two runs batted in, while junior centerfield Sylver Samuel was 3-for-8 with two runs scored, an RBI and stolen base. Junior shortstop Christian Stokes was 3-for-9 in the series and extend her hitting streak to a career-best seven games, while fellow junior infielder Nikki Sagermann hit her fifth home run of the season on Saturday.

Nunley was the star on the weekend, tossing 13.2 brilliant innings against a powerful offense. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., allowed just two earned runs – three total runs – in 13.2 innings pitched with only one walk and 13 strikeouts. Nunley, who earned the win Friday, received the tough-luck loss on Sunday although she allowed just one earned run with nine strikeouts. Sophomore Meagan Prince tossed 4.1 innings in relief on Saturday and did not allow a run to score, giving up just two hits with five strikeouts. Freshman pitcher Erin Rethlake tossed three innings overall and allowed two earned runs on five hits with three strikeouts.

Kentucky will return to action Wednesday at 6 p.m. when it travels to in-state rival Louisville for the first of a home-and-home series against the Cardinals. The game comes in the middle of nine home games for the Wildcats, who will return from the midweek showdown and host No. 4 Alabama for a three-game series at John Cropp Stadium, before three midweek games the following week against FAU (DH) and Marshall.

From UK Athletics

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