UK Baseball

UK's Meyer blanks No. 1 Vandy

UK's Alex Meyer pitched in the first inning of the Vanderbilt at Kentucky baseball game at Cliff Hagan Stadium in  in Lexington, Ky., on Friday May 6, 2011. UK beat Vanderbilt 2-0.   Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff
UK's Alex Meyer pitched in the first inning of the Vanderbilt at Kentucky baseball game at Cliff Hagan Stadium in in Lexington, Ky., on Friday May 6, 2011. UK beat Vanderbilt 2-0. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff

Matched against the top pitcher for the top-ranked team in the nation Friday night, it was Kentucky that had an ace up its sleeve.

Alex Meyer fired a five-hitter as Kentucky stunned No. 1 Vanderbilt 2-0 at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The Commodores, who lead the Southeastern Conference in hitting, were blanked for the first time since April 11, 2010, having scored in 75 consecutive games.

The last time UK knocked off a No. 1 team was April 15, 2007, 8-6 over Vandy.

Thomas McCarthy contributed a solo home run to Friday's win and later put down a sacrifice bunt to set up the only other score.

"Where we are and how it's gone, it's a huge win," said Coach Gary Henderson, whose Wildcats are 21-25 overall and 5-17 in the SEC. "To beat Vandy's best guy and set us up to have more pitching (in the bullpen) through the course of the weekend, it's a great performance (by Meyer). A huge win, and I'm thrilled for him."

Vandy (38-6, 17-5) had a six-game winning streak. South Carolina's 6-1 win over Ole Miss dropped Vandy out of first in the Eastern Division.

Meyer, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound junior, leads the SEC with four complete games. He came into the game with an SEC-leading 91 strikeouts. He struck out the side in the first inning but punched out only two more the rest of the game. He finished with an economical 110 pitches, 72 for strikes.

"I was feeling good from the get-go, so it was awesome," said Meyer (5-5). "It was one of the most fun nights I've had pitching. It couldn't have been against a better team, so it made it good."

Counterpart Sonny Gray (9-3) also went the distance, giving up four hits and striking out nine in eight innings.

"I thought I pitched pretty well with the exception of two or three pitches," Gray said. "Meyer's a good pitcher. He had his mojo tonight."

Meyer faced the minimum 18 batters through six innings despite giving up two singles.

Jason Esposito, who stretched his hitting streak to 25 games to lead off the second, was caught stealing.

Tony Kemp, who opened the fourth inning with the first of his three singles, was doubled off first on a hit-and-run lineout to right.

"He took it to us," Vandy Coach Tim Corbin said of Meyer. "He pitched himself out of it."

Mike Yastrzemski, grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, drew the only walk of the game to open the eighth. A pair of grounders moved him to third, where he was stranded.

The only other Commodore to reach second base was Connor Harrell, who led off the ninth with a single. Kemp followed with a bloop single to right.

"My heart rate went up a little bit and there were some thoughts going through my head," Meyer said. "But the whole night my defense was making plays, so I know all I've got to do is let them put a bat on it and see what happens."

What happened was fly out, popup and strikeout.

"We knew going into it that these were the two best pitchers in the country going at it," McCarthy said. "We had a lot of confidence and (Meyer) didn't disappoint."

McCarthy led off the second inning by drilling a 1-1 pitch over the left-field wall, his fifth homer of the season.

"He's such a great pitcher," McCarthy said of Gray. "I was just going up there and trying to hit a ball hard. And, fortunately, he left a fastball up for me and I was able to connect."

UK's other run came in the seventh. Braden Kapteyn led off with a single. He came around on McCarthy's bunt, a groundout and a wild pitch.

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