Kentucky takes game one 5-4 over LSU Baseball in 12 innings
BATON ROUGE, La. - Kentucky leftfielder Ka'ai Tom doubled down the right field line to plate two runs for the Wildcats in the 12th inning Friday night, as the Wildcats posted a 5-4 win over top-ranked LSU in an SEC series opener.
Kentucky improved to 17-9 on the season and 3-4 in SEC play, while LSU fell to 22-4 overall and 4-3 in conference play.
The teams will meet in Game 2 of the series Saturday at 6:30 p.m. CT. The game will be available online only via SEC Network+ and can be accessed at WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPN app. It will also be broadcast live on LSU Radio Network affiliates, including 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge. Fans can also go to LSUsports.net for live stats and audio through the GeauxZone.
Freshman right-hander Alex Lange will get the start on the mound Saturday for LSU, and Kentucky will counter with junior right-hander Dustin Beggs.
Kentucky junior right-hander Zach Strecker earned the win and improved to 2-0 on the season after coming on in relief in the bottom of the ninth for Kentucky, limiting the Tigers to one run and four hits in three innings with two walks. Spencer Jack earned his fourth save of the season after pitching the 12th inning.
LSU redshirt freshman Jesse Stallings (0-1) suffered his first career loss, surrendering two runs on four hits and walking one in 3.2 innings pitched.
LSU starter Jared Poche' worked 6.2 innings, giving up three runs on six hits, striking out three.
"This was one of the most frustrating games I've ever coached, because we made mistakes that we don't usually make," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "That falls back on coaching - it's my responsibility to make sure we don't make those kind of mistakes, and I have to make sure the players understand how to correct them and are prepared to execute the right way. Kentucky has a good ball club, so we have to brush this game off and look forward to tomorrow for a chance to even the series."
In the top of the second, centerfielder Andrew Stevenson singled up the middle to lead off the inning, and first baseman Chris Chinea followed with a single through the right side. With runners on first and third and no outs, left fielder Jake Fraley grounded into a fielder's choice to score Stevenson from third. After second baseman Jared Foster reached on a walk, designated hitter Chris Sciambra singled to right-centerfield, scoring Fraley from second base. The Tigers lead Kentucky 2-0 heading into the third inning.
Poche' retired 12 straight batters, heading into the fifth inning. Kentucky second baseman JaVon Shelby reached on an error by third baseman Conner Hale. Poche' worked out of the inning after giving up his first hit to right fielder Dorian Hairston.
In the top of the seventh with one out, Hairston doubled to right-centerfield, and third baseman Thomas Bernal followed with an RBI single. After Bernal advanced to second base with two outs, back-to-back singles by shortstop Connor Heady and centerfielder Kyle Barrett plated two runs for the Wildcats. Kentucky was up 3-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Laird singled through the right side. Hale reached on an error by Bernal, allowing Hale to advance to second and Laird to score with two outs. The score was tied at 3-3 after seven innings, and the game eventually headed into extra innings.
In the top of the 12th, Barrett singled through the right side, and first baseman Evan White was hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second for Tom with two outs. Tom doubled down the right field line, and Kentucky took the 5-3 lead.
In the bottom of the 12th, pinch hitter Grayson Byrd and Andrew Stevenson reached on throwing errors by the third baseman and second baseman, respectively. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to scoring position, Fraley flied out to right field, scoring Byrd, leaving the score 5-4.
Jack retired Foster on a ground ball to shortstop to end the game.