Comeback 'Cats erase five-run deficit; grab first SEC win of season
Kentucky Baseball scored nine unanswered on Saturday against Georgia to complete a five-run comeback and pick up their first SEC victory of the season as the ‘Cats walked away with a 10-8 victory. Adam Fogel lead the way with a 3-4 day at the plate as the Wildcats staved off the possibility of a second consecutive sweep.
Offense finally gets back on track
Maybe even more than the win, Kentucky desperately needed to see their offense get back to form. After not scoring more than three runs in any of the first four SEC games, Saturday’s barrage brings at least some semblance of optimism. Kentucky was able to get runs across the plate in each of the first five innings against the Bulldogs.
“I mean golly, it’s like we’ve been close for however many games and to get that one was good.” Head Coach Nick Mingione said after the victory.
It took a little small-ball to give Kentucky the initial lead in the first. Following a leadoff walk by Hunter Jump, Ryan Ritter dropped a perfect bunt single that allowed Jump to get to third off of a wild throw. A balk from Georgia’s starter Garrett Brown brought in the first run of the day.
Daniel Harris ripped a solo line drive home run over the left field fence in the following inning to start closing the gap. It was his first home run in a Wildcat uniform.
“That was insane, talk about an energy boost right there,” Fogel said about the home run that got Kentucky on the board.
Hunter Jump also added an RBI on a bloop single into left. RBI doubles by Alonzo Rubalcaba and Adam Fogel made it a one-run game after the third inning. Rubalcaba has now reached base safely in the last 17 games.
Kirk Liebert tied the game up in the fourth with an RBI single that brought in Chase Estep. The ‘Cats took the lead in the fifth without even needing to get a hit.
Fogel started the inning with a single. Three walks, two hit batters, a fielders choice and a wild pitch later Kentucky had a 10-6 lead.
“Our mindset is just ‘chip away, chip away’ and hopefully put up one, two, three,” Fogel said about the team’s resiliency after the win. “Slowly but surely and it worked out.”
Errors cost the ‘Cats once again despite the win
Saturday afternoon marked the first start for Darren Williams in a Kentucky uniform. The Eastern Kentucky transfer has spent this year coming out of the pen so far, resulting in a fantastic 0.48 ERA over his first seven appearances in a Wildcat uniform. A staple in the EKU rotation for the past few years, Williams posted mixed results in his first SEC start.
Kentucky’s defensive misfortunes spoiled what was seemingly a pretty good performance from the Maysville, KY native. Daniel Harris had his third error of the past week on a ground ball in the second that should’ve gotten the ‘Cats out of the inning. Three straight hits and a wild pitch later, Kentucky was facing a 6-1 deficit heading into the bottom of the second.
The grad transfer settled back down after the fiasco of the second frame to shut Georgia down for a couple more innings. In four innings total on Saturday, Williams allowed five hits, struck out four and walked four to go along with the six runs. None of those runs were earned however, leaving him with a 0.40 ERA now on the season.
“He gave us a chance to win that game and to his credit he just kept fighting and competing,” Mingione said about Williams
Coming into now a tied game in the fifth, Sean Harney took the mound in relief. The grad transfer had another great outing, despite faltering in the eighth. He allowed a pair in the inning to make it a two-run game, but finished with four innings of bullpen work that the ‘Cats absolutely needed.
Tyler Guilfoil came in for the ninth to close the game out and grab his second save of the season.
Now with the series tied at one a piece, Sunday’s getaway day game becomes all that much more important for building momentum. The game is set for a noon start at Kentucky Proud Park and will be televised on the SEC Network.