Following a 13-3 loss on Friday to Vanderbilt, Kentucky responded with an 11-5 win over the Commodores on Saturday night. Led by Dustin Beggs’ 12 strikeouts over 8.1 innings, Kentucky ran away with their 26th win of the season.
Kentucky’s offense backed Beggs up throughout the night. After an RBI single by Vanderbilt’s Dansby Swanson in the first, Kentucky’s Dorian Hairston responded with a solo home run in the second. The Commodores would get another run in the third, but Kentucky’s offense took over in the bottom half. An RBI single by Evan White tied the game at two, before Ka’ai Tom hit an RBI groundout to give Kentucky their first lead. JaVon Shelby, the hottest hitter in the Cats’ lineup delivered two more RBIs on a double to extend the lead to 5-2 after three innings.
After allowing two early runs, Beggs began to settle in during the fourth inning. Beggs sat down the Commodores in order in the fourth and fifth innings as the Kentucky offense continued to strike for more runs. Hairston, Greg Fettes and Kyle Barrett all contributed RBIs in a fifth inning that saw Kentucky score six runs on four hits and two errors. Vanderbilt starter Phillip Pfeifer was pulled two outs into the fifth after allowing 10 runs on nine hits. After all was said and done in the fifth, Kentucky led 11-2.
Beggs continued to dominate late in the ball game. Vanderbilt’s three and four hitters in the lineup struck out three times a piece against Kentucky. Beggs finished with a career-high 12 strikeouts over 8.1 innings. The 11-5 win was Beggs’ seventh on the season and fourth in a row.
While Hairston knocked in a pair of runs on two hits, Kentucky also found another source of runs in the bottom of their lineup. Connor Heady had hits in all three of his at-bats and scored twice for Kentucky.
Kentucky was happy to have a nine run lead in the ninth as Vanderbilt’s offense woke up against Beggs and Andrew Nelson. After Beggs struck out the lead off hitter and allowed a single, Nelson came in to try and finish the game. Nelson allowed three runs to cross on two more hits and two walks. Zach Strecker came in and finished off the the last two outs and to wrap up an 11-5 victory for Kentucky.
The rubber match of this series will take place Sunday at noon. It has not been announced who will start for Kentucky, but Vanderbilt will send Lexington-native Walker Buehler to the mound on Sunday. The game will be available on SECN+.