It was a wild night at Kentucky Proud Park. In game one with No. 2 Vanderbilt and SEC tournament implications on the line, this game saw a nine-run comeback, a two-hour rain delay, and Keith Madison bobblehead rolling away. Absolute Madness. Despite the madness, Kentucky can’t complete the impressive comeback as they drop game one to No. 2 Vanderbilt 16-10.
Finding a lead with all the madness that occurred in this game is near impossible, so this recap will just go in the sequence of the events that played out before 3,000+ fans at Kentucky Proud Park because it is a rollercoaster.
Vandy jumped out to a big lead early on Trip Lockhart. The Commodores jumped out to a 2-0 lead on two RBI singles, but the big three-run blast by Stephen Scott gave Vanderbilt a commanding 5-0 lead before the Cats even got to swing a pitch.
Vandy put another run across on a great attempt at a double play, but the ball from Zeke bounced to second base, and the Cats only get one out on the play. They got one more on an RBI single to go up 7-0 in the second and that would signal the end of the day for Trip Lockhart.
Mingione turned to Grant Macciocchi. Macciocchi gave up a solo home run to lead off the inning, then gave up an RBI single from Ty Duvall. But after the two-run spat, he was phenomenal.
Macciocchi left the game after five and a third innings of work, and he held Vandy at bay in the middle innings to allow the Cats to chip away and take the lead.
The Cats finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when Jaren Shelby clobbered a double with two on that scored Ryan Shinn and allowed Dalton Reed to move into third. Reed would score on a picture perfect bunt by Zeke Lewis to put Kentucky down 9-2.
Kentucky got it rolling in the sixth starting with a Coltyn Kessler home run when he launched a ball over the visiting bullpen to draw the Cats within six.
Then with two outs and two runners on Alex Rodriguez hit a fly ball to center field, but as we have learned this season at KPP, there is no routine play with the way the lights are set up. Outfielders have lost balls left and right during night games this season, and luckily for the Cats, another got lost at the right time as the ball dropped in for a two-run double to put the Cats down four.
Kentucky was able to get the tying run to the plate when they loaded the bases to start the seventh inning, but a Dalton Reed strikeout followed it, then Shelby flew out to center to score Elliott Curtis to cut the Vanderbilt lead to three. Zeke Lewis would reload the bases for Alex Rodriguez who was hit by a pitch to bring another run across to make it 9-7 with two outs for Ryan Johnson.
Johnson came through.
He lofted a ball into left-center field that allowed both Shinn and Lewis to score to tie the game, but Johnson took the wide turn for second and got caught a rundown. While Vanderbilt was trying to catch Johnson in the pickle, A-Rod brilliantly broke for home and scored before Vandy picked up the final out to come all the way back from a nine-run deficit.
Headed into the eighth, Kentucky led 10-9.
At this point, to complete what seemed to be a successful comeback, we knew every little play mattered in a game like this and no one indirectly kept Kentucky in this game more than Cam Hill with these two amazing plays in center field.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) May 16, 2019
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) May 16, 2019
While we were admiring the plays Cam Hill made earlier in the game that helped keep Kentucky in the game to pull off such an amazing comeback, the rain hit. Causing a two-hour rain delay and a runaway Keith Madison Bobblehead.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) May 17, 2019
Once play resumed in the top of the eighth Vandy had two runners in scoring position with one out. Daniel Harper came in out of the pen and induced a pop out to third base in the first batter he faced, then Philip Clarke stepped to the plate with two outs.
Clarke drilled a ball to deep center field, and Cam Hill had a chance to make one more amazing play to keep the Kentucky lead, but he and the ball went crashing into the center field wall as Philip Clarke trotted into third with a two-run double giving Vanderbilt an 11-10 lead.
The Commodores would sit the Cats down in order in the next half inning, then score five in the top of the ninth to make it 16-10. The ‘Doores would close it out in the bottom of the ninth take a wild game one.
Luckily, for Kentucky, both South Carolina and Alabama lost today so the tie doesn’t budge, which means if the SEC tournamnet started today Kentucky would be in Hoover.
Unfortunately for the Cats, the season doesn’t end today as two more games stand between them and a postseason. The next of those two games will be Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET from KPP on the SEC Network.
Go Cats. @BrentW_KSR