The nationally ranked Kentucky Wildcats baseball team traveled to Nashville this past weekend for a showdown with SEC East rival and consensus top ten squad Vanderbilt with hopes of continuing their solid start in conference play.
The Commodores more than lived up to their billing as one of the top teams in college baseball this season and took two of three games from the Bat Cats, and while the results were disappointing, the boys in blue had no reason to hang their heads in shame.
Below is a quick recap of the three-game set in Music City.
April 15, Vanderbilt 3, Kentucky 0
Vanderbilt hurler Jordan Sheffield shook off a shellacking in his last outing against LSU to throw an absolute gem against Kentucky in the series opener.
Sheffield went the distance and kept Kentucky’s lineup in check the entire game. He allowed only five hits, did not give up a single run and retired an eye-popping 14 Kentucky batters.
Kentucky’s Zach Brown did his best to keep pace with Sheffield. He lasted for 6.2 innings and fanned six Vandy batters. Brown’s only sin was giving up three earned runs.
Jeren Kendall of Vanderbilt knocked in the Commodores first run of the game with a triple in the 3rd inning.
Brown got in trouble again in the 7th inning. Vandy’s Alonzo Jones opened the inning with a double and advanced to third on a sacrifice fly. Jones scored when Connor Kaiser singled to left field. One batter later, Kendall collected his second RBI of the game thanks to a timely single to right field.
Evan White proved to be the only Wildcat, who could do any damage against Sheffield. He doubled twice and put Kentucky on the verge of scoring a run, but his teammates to drive him in on each occasion.
April 16, Vanderbilt 3, Kentucky 2
Vanderbilt overcame four costly fielding errors to score another win over the Bat Cats in a game that wasn’t decided until deep into the final innings.
The Commodores Jason Delay broke a 0-0 deadlock in the bottom of the 5th inning with a solo homer run over the left field wall.
In the top of the 7th, with runners on the corners, Kentucky’s Dorian Hairston evened things up at 1 all thanks to a passed ball.
One inning later, Kentucky took their first lead of the series, 2-1, when Marcus Carson crossed the plate thanks to a throwing error by the Vandy first baseman.
The Cats lead proved to be brief. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th, Bryan Reynolds hit a two-RBI single that proved to be the game-winning hit.
Vandy’s Kyle Wright gave his team their second straight sterling performance on the mound with a five hit, six strikeout affair in seven innings of work.
UK’s Dustin Beggs also pitched seven innings. He gave up one earned run but limited the Commodores to four hits to go along with five K’s.
April 17, Kentucky 3, Vanderbilt 0
On the verge of being swept, Kentucky rode solid pitching and a three-run 7th inning to steal a win over Vanderbilt.
Cody quieted Vandy’s bats. He allowed four hits and retired eight batters in one of his best outings of the year thus far.
Zach Reks got on base in the top of the 7th with a single. Following a Javon Shelby walk, a Luke Becker sacrifice bunt, and a Tristan Pompey walk the loaded the bases for Troy Squires.
Squires belted a three-RBI double to right field to clear the bases and give Kentucky the only lead they would need.
However, Vanderbilt threatened twice. In the bottom of the 8th inning, UK reliever Justin Lewis walked Vandy’s Bryan Reynolds. Two wild pitches later and Reynolds was on third. Thankfully, Lewis buckled down and retired the next two batters.
Sean Hjelle faced a similar predicament in the bottom of the 9th. With two outs he gave up a single, hit a batter and walked another to load the bases. Behind on a 2-1 count, Hjelle dug down and jammed the next batter to preserve UK’s advantage and hand them the victory.