Kentucky’s baseball team used a bases-loaded, walk-off wild pitch in the 10th inning to beat top-ranked Florida 5-4 on Sunday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky won the last two games of the three-game series, marking the third straight season it has won a series against a top-ranked team.
After making a pair of errors in the top of the 10th inning that allowed the Gators to take 4-3 lead, Kentucky shortstop Riley Mahan made up for it by hitting a game-tying home run in the bottom half.
“Unfortunately I booted two balls, but I just wanted to get us back in the game and to put together a good at-bat,” Mahan said. “We get down, and nobody’s hanging their head. We’re coming right back. I don’t think anybody in the stadium doubts it anymore. As soon as we get behind, we’re coming back.”
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After Mahan’s blast, Kole Cottam was hit by a pitch, leadoff man Storm Wilson walked and Evan White hit an infield single off the cleat of Florida reliever Brady Singer, loading the bases.
Former Tates Creek standout JaVon Shelby fell behind in the count 0-2 before Singer uncorked a wild pitch that skidded to the backstop and allowed Tyler Marshall, a pinch runner for Cottam, to scamper home with the winning run.
Kentucky Coach Gary Henderson credited Mahan for not getting down on himself after the errors.
“I am as proud of him as his mom and dad probably,” Henderson said. “He remained competitive when he had the chance to be disappointed.”
Kentucky (17-6, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) won its fourth consecutive series against Florida (23-3, 5-1 SEC), adding the Gators to a list of No. 1 teams it has won series against the last three seasons. (UK beat South Carolina in 2014 and LSU in 2015.) The Wildcats opened this series on Friday with a 12-5 loss. UK bounced back to even the series with a 7-4 win on Saturday.
“When you play in our league, you have the opportunity to play the No. 1 team pretty frequently,” Henderson said. “That is how good our league is. You get to play multiple No. 1 teams in the same conference season. I am just really proud of our kids. This is a shot of confidence as we move forward.”
The Cats had 13 hits, with Zach Reks going a 3-for-4 with a double. Mahan was 3-for-5 with a double, a home run and two RBI. White extended his hitting streak to 16 games.
Kentucky starter Kyle Cody allowed three runs on six hits in six innings. He walked four and struck out three.
“Kyle left some guys on base today, and he made pitches with two outs and runners on,” Henderson said. “It was a much better effort. He has a lot of room for growth, but Kyle competed really well. When the game called for a pitch, he got the job done.”
UK reliever Zach Strecker worked three hitless innings to get the Cats to the 10th inning.
“He kept us in the ball game with one ground ball after another for three innings,” Henderson said. “He gave us a chance to win.”
Sean Hjelle, a 6-foot-11 freshman right-hander, worked the 10th inning and improved to 3-0.
Northern Kentucky at Kentucky
6:30 p.m. Tuesday