UK Baseball

Vandy rallies in 9th to beat Bat Cats

Braden Kapteyn slid past Vanderbilt catcher Curt Casali to score Kentucky's first run. Kapteyn scored from first on Thomas McCarthy's double down the left-field line.
Braden Kapteyn slid past Vanderbilt catcher Curt Casali to score Kentucky's first run. Kapteyn scored from first on Thomas McCarthy's double down the left-field line.

Kentucky got a lot of what it needed Sunday in its effort to win the deciding game of a three-game series from top-ranked Vanderbilt.

The Wildcats got a quality start from right-hander Jordan Cooper, a clutch two-run homer from Michael Williams and sparkling defensive plays by Lucas Witt in center and Braden Kapteyn at first base.

UK just didn't get a victory.

Vandy scored three runs in the ninth inning to top the Wildcats 6-3 at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

"Competing in and of itself is great, but it's not the whole story," UK Coach Gary Henderson said. "You have to learn how to win. You've got to be able to go grab a win because nobody hands you anything in our league."

Vandy (40-6, 19-5 Southeastern Conference) took sole possession of the Eastern Division lead after South Carolina lost to Mississippi.

Williams' two-run homer in the fourth inning gave UK (21-27, 5-19) a 3-2 lead.

Witt made a diving grab of Riley Reynolds' fifth-inning sinking liner and Kapteyn made a diving stab of Curt Casali's liner in the sixth.

That helped Cooper, who replaced Taylor Rogers in the weekend rotation, take a one-run lead into the seventh.

Tony Kemp's leadoff single, followed by a walk, ended Cooper's outing.

Alex Phillips came on to face Aaron Westlake, who gave Vandy a quick lead with a two-run homer in the first.

Phillips retired Westlake on a fly to left.

Jason Esposito, looking to extend his hitting streak to 27 games, flied to deep center, moving Kemp to third.

The throw to the infield short-hopped second baseman Matt Reida, skipping far enough away to enable Kemp to score the tying run.

Phillips got out of the inning by getting Mike Yastrzemski to fly to right.

UK would strand five runners over the last three innings.

Five Vandy pitchers combined for three-hit shutout ball in relief of Taylor Hill. Navery Moore (4-1) worked one inning to extend his scoreless streak to 12 frames, and Corey Williams got the final out for his second save.

Phillips, who retired the first eight batters he faced, gave up back-to-back two-out singles to Anthony Gomez and Westlake in the ninth.

Henderson summoned Trevor Gott from the bullpen.

Gott had time to throw only four pitches, resulting in consecutive singles by Esposito, Yastrzemski and Casali.

"I was looking to get a base hit and kind of back up our pitchers, who did a good job all day," said Esposito, who lined a first-pitch offering down the first-base line. "A credit to our defense, too, because they had a lot of hard-hit balls in play. Anybody in that situation is trying to look to get the ball in play and get it past somebody."

He says he never gave his hitting streak a thought.

"Just trying to ... get another 'W' is really what we're focused on," Esposito said. "Streaks don't really mean anything as far as accomplishments. I guess the only accomplishment really worthwhile is a team victory."

Thomas McCarthy had three of UK's seven hits. He also drove in Kapteyn with the Cats' first run, lacing a first-inning double.

"We competed well, obviously," Henderson said. "Cooper did a great job. Alex Phillips did a great job. I thought, for the most part, our defense was good; obviously we had the one blip that was tough.

"McCarthy had a great day at the plate. I thought Williams and (Neiko) Johnson and Kapteyn competed really well at the plate as well."

vanderbilt 10, kentucky 3

VANDERBILTKENTUCKY

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Kemp lf 5 2 4 2 Wright lf 5 1 3 2

Gomez ss 5 1 1 0 Black ss 5 0 1 0

Westlake 1b5 0 0 1Kapteyn dh-p4 0 0 0

Esposito 3b 5 1 2 2McCarthy 3b3 0 1 0

Yastremski rf4 1 1 0 Williams c 2 0 0 0

Casali c 3 2 1 0Daugherty ph0 1 0 0

Fann ph-c 1 0 0 0 Johnson rf 3 0 0 0

Gregor dh 4 2 3 4 Kidd ph 0 1 0 0

Lind ph 1 0 0 0 Maile 1b 3 0 1 0

Reynolds 2b 3 1 1 1McConkey ph1 0 0 0

Johns ph-2b 1 0 0 0 Adams cf 3 0 0 1

Harrell 3 0 2 0 Riddle 2b 3 0 1 0

Thomas 1 0 0 0

Totals 40 10 15 10 Totals 33 3 7 3

Vanderbilt 601 001 200—10

Kentucky 000 001 002— 3

DP—Vanderbilt 1. LOB—Vanderbilt 7, Kentucky 8. 2B—Kemp (6), Esposito 2 (17), Black (14). HR—Gregor (3), Wright (5). HBP—Williams. SB—Harrell (5).

Vanderilb IP H R ER BB SO

Garvin W, 10-1 8 6 1 1 0 2

Armstrong1/30 2 2 4 0

Williams2/31 0 0 0 1

Kentucky

Littrell L, 5-5 5 9 7 7 3 3

Kennedy 12/35 3 3 0 0

Kapteyn 21/31 0 0 0 3

WP—Littrell 3 (7). HBP—by Garvin (Williams).

Umpires—Home, Tony Maners; First, Joe Marion; Third, Jack Cox.

T—2:46. A—1,671.

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