It has been a week of upsets across the college baseball world, and #10 Kentucky was the latest victim. Alabama (16-10, 2-5) upset Kentucky (18-8, 2-5) on Friday night by a score of 4-2. Former UK assistant and current head coach at UA Brad Bohannon locked up his first win over his former team on Friday night.
Bohannon’s group scored four runs against UK ace Sean Hjelle over the course of the starter’s seven innings. Hjelle continually battled on the mound all night, but the Cats’ offense never backed him up. Alabama scored two in the second inning and single runs in the third and seventh innings as they wrapped up their second conference win of 2018.
It appeared early that the Cats had settled in against UA starter Sam Finnerty. Trey Dawson drove in UK’s first run of the day with a looping single in the second inning. The 1-0 lead would be short-lived for UK. In the bottom of the second, Joe Breaux tripled in a run before scoring on an RBI groundout that gave the Tide their first lead of the game.
UK would never be able to get over the one-run hump. The Tide would keep their foot on the gas in the third inning when Chandler Avant drove in their third run of the game on an RBI groundout.
Hjelle battled back every time the Tide would threaten to run away with the game. The Cats’ star pitcher stranded five runners in seven innings in Friday’s loss. Hjelle struck out seven batters and allowed nine hits against Bama.
With the upset looming, Kole Cottam decided to get the BatCats’ offense rolling in the sixth. The junior catcher lifted his tenth home run of the season to cut the Tide’s lead to one. Cottam’s home run was the only extra-base hit of the night for UK. The Cats looked lost at the plate tonight, stranding nine runners in the first six innings before collecting only one hit in the final three frames.
Both teams collected their fair share of hits tonight, but it was Bama that got hits with runners on base. With Hjelle in his final inning, UA stretched their lead back out to two when Cobie Vance served an RBI single to center that pushed the Tide’s lead back to two in the seventh.
The late run proved to be a catalyst in Alabama’s pursuit of the upset. But the biggest factor in the win was on the mound. Finnerty tossed a solid 5.2 innings before the Tide’s bullpen took over. Brock Guffey and Deacon Meadors combined to throw 3.1 shutout innings in relief to cap off Friday’s win over Kentucky.
Kentucky and Alabama are now tied in the SEC’s overall standings. The loss was only the third time the Cats had lost to an unranked team this season. For Alabama, they picked up a much-needed win over a top 25 team. The upset win was without a doubt the biggest in Bohannon’s short coaching career.
The teams will be back in action tomorrow at 3 ET on SECN+.