UK Baseball

Georgia holds off Kentucky baseball team, 7-6

First baseman A.J. Reed watched his fourth-inning single. Reed had a run and three hits in five appearances at the plate.
First baseman A.J. Reed watched his fourth-inning single. Reed had a run and three hits in five appearances at the plate. Herald-Leader

For wont of a few inches, Kentucky lost a game Saturday.

Trailing Georgia by a run in the ninth inning, UK's J.T. Riddle drove a ball deep to right field.

A few inches to the left, and it would have been a home run. Instead, it hit off the old scoreboard site in right field, which forms the Cliff Hagan Stadium version of a Green Monster.

Riddle wound up on second base, where he was stranded as Georgia held on for a 7-6 victory.

With the three-game series tied at a game each, No. 8 UK will turn to ace Corey Littrell on Sunday. Over the last two seasons, UK is 10-0 when Littrell starts in a rubber game; Littrell is 7-0 with a 1.85 ERA in those contests.

After Friday's 3-2 10-inning win, UK Coach Gary Henderson talked about the importance of winning one-run games.

"We had done a good job of that. We didn't today," Henderson said Saturday. "I thought the moment got a little bit big for us at the plate in the ninth. But we hit the two balls hard. We didn't lose the game in the ninth inning. We lost it in the seventh inning."

Riddle's double, his fourth hit of the day, came after Max Kuhn hit a ball hard but at center fielder D.J. Smith.

With Riddle on base, Georgia reliever Dylan Cole closed out his first save with a strikeout and a comebacker.

Georgia (10-18, 1-7 Southeastern Conference) scored three times in the seventh inning to take a 7-3 lead.

A hit batsman and a walk fueled the rally. Hunter Cole and J.T. Phillips each singled in a run, and another scored on a fielder's choice.

UK (20-6, 5-3) scored a run in the fourth when Georgia lefty Patrick Boling (2-3) beaned Micheal Thomas with the bases loaded.

Wildcats lefty Jerad Grundy (5-2) kept the Bulldogs scoreless until the fifth, when he walked the first two men.

Both scored, one on a double play and the other on Kyle Farmer's two-out double.

An error and a single KO'd Grundy with one out in the sixth. Both runners scored on Curt Powell's two-out single, making it 4-1.

"Pretty much the whole day I really struggled to find my rhythm, even with my fastball and my off-speed stuff," Grundy said after his shortest outing of the season. "But I just competed the first four innings and I was able to get some swings out of the zone by them, and that helped me get through four. But then I really lost my rhythm going in the fifth and the sixth."

Grundy allowed four runs, two earned, on five hits and five walks, striking out four.

"When it comes down to it, we just walked too many people today and we lost the free-base war," Grundy said.

UK rallied for two in the sixth. With runners on second and third, Thomas hit a dribbler to Boling, who used his gloved hand to flip the ball — well over the head of catcher Brett DeLoach. The error allowed both runners to score.

The Cats showed sparks again with three in the eighth.

Pinch-hitter Paul McConkey knocked a one-out double, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Matt Reida's double.

Austin Cousino doubled in Reida, and Zac Zellers' single plated Cousino.

"I felt good about that. I felt our energy and concentration was good in the eighth," Henderson said. "But sometimes you come up short, and we did today. Now we've got to show up tomorrow and win the series."

Next Game

Georgia at Kentucky

When: 1 p.m. Sunday

Where: Cliff Hagan Stadium

Radio: WLAP-AM 630

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