Never, ever count out this Kentucky team. The #9 BatCats rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the top of the ninth before Trey Dawson drove in two runs in the top of the 11th to boost UK to a 6-4 win over #18 Georgia. The come from behind win improved UK’s record to 24-10 overall and 6-7 in conference play.
For a while, it appeared that the Dogs had stumped the UK offense. The BatCats hit into three double plays in the late innings as they could not get a crooked number on the scoreboard against UGA’s pitching staff. The first eight innings were equally frustrating for UK starting pitcher Sean Hjelle. UGA hit a pair of two-run home runs off Hjelle, but the junior righty still looked the part of an SEC Pitcher of the Year throughout the game. Hjelle pitched eight innings, allowing four runs on six hits while striking out three.
UK had minimal support for Hjelle against starting pitcher Chase Adkins and Georgia. Luke Heyer’s RBI single in the fourth was the only run-producing play the Cats’ offense would muster in the support of their starting pitcher.
There is something about this team that has to make every game a thriller. Trailing by three, the BatCats rallied in the ninth inning. Trailing 4-1, the BatCats were down to their final strike several times but continually battled back. T.J Collett put the game in reach when he ripped an RBI double to right. After a walk by Ryan Johnson, Ben Aklinski singled home two runs to tie the game at four heading into extra innings.
“It wasn’t just Ben. Ben was the one that got up and knocked them in, but for those guys to be on and grind out at-bats,” Nick Mingione said. “This team wanted to win, man. That’s the thing I’ve said all year long with this team is when we have the desire to win that dominates like that, we’re as good as any team.”
It was in extra innings that the merit of this team really showed. With Chris Machamer shutting down the once powerful Dawgs’ lineup, the UK offense meticulously attacked UGA’s bullpen. Zeke Lewis and Ryan Johnson both walked to put two men on for Trey Dawson with two outs. The junior shortstop battled with two strikes and was rewarded with a good pitch to hit late in the at-bat. Dawson served a two-run double against Georgia’s Tony Lacey to give the Cats a 6-4 lead heading into the bottom of the 11th.
“I choked up a little on the plate and really was just trying to put the ball in play and make them make a play and happened to put a good swing on it,” Dawson said on his game-winning hit.
Following the rally in the top of the inning, Machamer jogged back out for his third inning in relief. The sophomore slammed the door with a strikeout to close out a 6-4 thriller in Athens.
Kentucky and Georgia will play a doubleheader tomorrow starting at 3 ET. The first game will be available on SECN+ with game two following at 7 ET on SEC Network.