Two Kentucky errors in the top of the ninth lead to four unearned runs as Georgia roared back to beat the Cats 5-3 on Friday afternoon. It was a dreary, rainy day at the Cliff and the game itself was lethargic until the final two innings. After UK took the lead in the bottom of the eighth, UGA used three hits and two errors in the top of the ninth to score four runs. UK now sits at 31-15 (14-8) after losing to the 18-28 Bulldogs on Friday.
The game was originally scheduled for 6:30 tonight, but with rain incoming, the teams decided to play at 2. The rain came throughout most of the game, causing the field to stay slick. Neither team found any offense thru the first four innings. Starter Sean Hjelle worked out of a couple difficult jams including runners in scoring position in the second and third innings.
UGA got to Hjelle in the top of the fifth. Cam Shepherd bounced out to first to score Tucker Maxwell from third and give UGA a 1-0 lead. The Cats answered back in a hurry. Tyler Marshall singled to start the bottom of the fifth and Connor Heady walked with one out. After Tristan Pompey flew out to center, Evan White singled home Marshall to tie the game at one thru five. The single put White in sole possession of 15th on UK’s All-Time hits list. White will most likely move into the top ten by the end of the season.
Hjelle continued to motor on into the seventh. The RBI groundout in the fifth was the only run that Hjelle allowed on Friday. The sophomore went 6.2 innings and struck out seven in yet another quality start. Hjelle is the first player on the team to reach 70 strikeouts on the season.
Logan Salow entered with two outs in the seventh and shut the door with a strikeout. He would add one more K’s as we worked a 1-2-3 eighth.
Kentucky used a little small ball to manufacture a run in the bottom of the eighth. Zach Reks singled and was moved up on a bunt before Riley Mahan and Troy Squires both walked to load the bases with one out. Marshall delivered a sac fly to center to give UK a 2-1 lead headed into the ninth.
That’s where the wheels came off for the Cats. Logan Salow allowed a single to lead off the ninth but got a pop out and a strikeout to put UGA down to their last out. Maxwell got to Salow with a double off the centerfield wall. LJ Talley tripped rounding third and could not advance home. Salow had the Dogs down to their last strike, but a ground ball got past Heady at shortstop to score two unearned runs for UGA. Just as it seemed like Salow might be out of it, a fly ball bounced out of Pompey’s glove to score two more runs.
When it was all said and done, UK trailed 5-2 headed to the bottom of the ninth. After Heady doubled and Pompey collected his team-high 68th hit of the season, UK was in business. The BatCats loaded the bases for Becker with one out. Becker walked to score a run and put the winning run at first. UK could not find another base hit as Mahan struck out and Gunnar McNeill popped out to second to end the game.
Today’s loss stings as Georgia is not projected to make the SEC Tournament. The adjusted start time and the terrible weather didn’t help things as UK is now only a half game up on Florida in the East. The Cats are back at it tomorrow night at 6:30 ET.