UK Baseball

Bama baseball beats UK 11-9

All Southeastern Conference baseball series wins are not equal.

Look at Kentucky, which Sunday had a deflating end to its best week of the season.

The Wildcats shut out No. 7 Louisville, then took Friday and Saturday games from No. 19 Alabama.

Going for the sweep, UK bolted to a 9-0 lead through five innings.

Alabama, though, rallied for an 11-9 victory before a Cliff Hagan Stadium crowd of 1,953.

UK positives during the week were many. Three wins over ranked foes, a rejuvenated offense against a pair of previously unbeaten pitchers and effective starts, including Alex Meyer's 51⁄3-inning effort Sunday.

"But you lose a Sunday game, and you give it away after you've had a big lead, it's pretty hard to see the rosy picture," UK Coach Gary Henderson said.

Both teams started the day with 4-7 SEC records. UK is now 21-12 overall. Alabama, snapping a five-game SEC road losing streak, is 21-11.

The win "was huge," said Jake Smith, who jump-started Alabama's rally with a grand slam. "This team, we've been scuffling really bad. And to come back like that, we're on the road against a good team and a good pitching staff, it was good for our offense and the team all together."

UK out-hit the Crimson Tide 17-14, but left 12 on base to Alabama's nine. UK pitchers walked four and hit a pair, adding a balk and three wild pitches. Two errors compounded the problems.

Chad Wright, one of three Cats to finish with three hits, drove in three runs — one on a two-out double in the fourth and two more on a two-out single in the fifth.

"It's tough. Sometimes the ball doesn't fall our way," Wright said. "They had a couple hits that ended up going their way a little bit towards the end of the game."

UK's six-run fifth included 10 at-bats, five hits, two errors and a hit batsman.

Meyer, who held Alabama to two hits through five innings, may have been affected by the long inning.

Two walks, a wild pitch and a single loaded the bases for Alabama with one out.

Henderson called on lefty Mike Kaczmarek for relief.

He plunked Jon Kelton to force in a run. Kaczmarek got two strikes on Smith, but couldn't finish off the senior. Smith, who hit a slam against UK last season, did it again on a 1-2 pitch. Suddenly, UK's lead was trimmed to 9-5.

"I battled there for a minute," said Smith, who has four career slams. "I saw four or five pitches and I saw everything he had, so I felt comfortable in there and, luckily enough, it just went out."

Smith, a pre-season All-American, came into the game hitting .233 with one homer and 12 RBI. After striking out his first two at-bats, Smith had his slam and a pair of singles, scoring three times.

Kaczmarek had not allowed an inherited runner to score all season.

"Exactly. Those guys are human," Henderson said. "But he's done a good job for us. The issue's not the ball that leaves the yard. The issue is the three freebies that were on base."

As well as Meyer pitched, Henderson would have liked more innings.

"We stretched our bullpen," he said. "You go to your bullpen in the fifth inning on Friday night, you pay for it. And we did today."

Alabama scored five in the eighth, facing three pitchers. The Tide added a run in the ninth.