BATON ROUGE, La. — A two-out, two-RBI double from Ka’ai Tom in the top of the 12th inning lifted Kentucky to a 5-4 win at No. 1 LSU, in front of 11,118 on a perfect Friday night at Alex Box Stadium.
Kentucky (17-9, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) fell behind early after the Tigers plated two runs in the second inning, getting RBI from Jake Fraley and Chris Sciambra. The Wildcats broke up a no-hit bid from LSU starter Jared Poche’ in the fifth inning, and then collected five hits in the top of the seventh inning, taking a 3-2 lead. The Tigers then pounced on a two-out throwing error that allowed the tying run to score from first base, with UK escaping the jam in a tied game.
The two teams were held scoreless until a golden chance in the bottom of the 11th inning, when the Tigers got a rally sparked on a leadoff single from Jake Fraley. Jared Foster then rolled a ball into the hole on the left side, with shortstop Connor Heady ranging to his right and his off-balance throw sailing wide of the bag. Greg Deichmann then grounded into a double play that pushed Fraley to third base with Mark Laird at the plate. After UK intentionally walked the bases loaded with two outs, Conner Hale ripped a line drive in the gap on the right side, plunking Alex Bregman with the hit, ending the 11th inning.
After a pair of outs at the bottom of the order started the top of the 12th inning, Kyle Barrett smacked a single through the right side and Evan White forced him to second after getting plunked by a 3-1 pitch. That brought Ka’ai Tom to the plate, who smashed a 1-2 offering, with the ball skipping over the head of first baseman Chris Chinea for a two-RBI double, scoring Barrett and a White for a 5-3 lead.
UK starter Zack Brown kept the Wildcats in the game with a gutsy performance, working 6.2 innings, allowing nine hits and three runs – two earned – walking three and striking out three, with the game-tying run scoring on a two-out throwing error. With the tying run on third and two outs in the seventh, UK turned to Dylan Dwyer, who escaped the jam. Dwyer worked one inning, allowing a walk, before Andrew Nelson got the final out of the eighth. Junior Zach Strecker (2-0) took over to start the bottom of the ninth, working three innings, allowing four hits and issuing two intentional walks.
After a leadoff error in the 12th inning, UK turned to lefty Logan Salow to face left-handed hitting Andrew Stevenson. Stevenson chopped a grounder to the right side, with the attempt to field, apply the tag and throw to first base for the double play creating a second error to open the frame. After the second error, UK turned to senior right-hander Spencer Jack in relief. Jack got a deep fly out, scoring LSU’s fourth run, and a grounder to end the game, picking up his fourth save of the year.
Kentucky was paced at the plate by a three-hit game from senior third baseman Thomas Bernal. UK also got hits from White, Tom, Kyle Barrett, Dorian Hairston, Greg Fettes and Connor Heady.
The win marked the seventh win over a No. 1 ranked team in the UK head coach Gary Henderson era, with Henderson owning a 7-7 record against top-ranked foes. Earlier in 2015, Henderson became the fastest coach in UK history to achieve 200 wins.
LSU’s (22-4, 4-3 SEC) starter Poche’ worked 6.2 innings, allowing six hits and three runs, not issuing and walk and striking out three. Parker Bugg escaped the seventh with an out, before giving way to Zac Person, who worked a shutout eighth. Dynamic freshman closer Jesse Stallings (0-1) took over to start the ninth inning, working 3.2 innings, allowing four hits and two runs, walking one hitter intentionally. Austin Bain came on to get the final out of the 12th inning.
The series will resume on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET at Alex Box Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network+, with Lynn Rollins and Ronnie Rantz calling the action. Fans can also hear the game live on the UK Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on Fox Sports 1580-AM and in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM. UK will be seeking just the second series win in Baton Rouge, La., in program history. The win in the opener snapped a seven-game winning streak by the Tigers at Alex Box Stadium.
The Tigers struck first in the bottom of the second inning as Andrew Stevenson led off with a single to centerfield, motoring to third base on a single from Chris Chinea. Jake Fraley then beat out the back end of a double play to force in Stevenson. After a steal and walk of Jared Foster, Chris Sciambra ripped a laser into the gap, with the ball bouncing over the fence for a would-be ground-rule double. Sciambra passed Foster in between first and second base, forcing the umpire to call him out for the second out.
UK got on the board in the top of the seventh inning as Hairston ripped a 3-1 offering from Poche’ into the right-centerfield gap, his third double of the year. Bernal then singled up the middle, allowing Hairston to score from second. After Fettes singled to rightfield, Heady smacked the first pitch of his at-bat up the middle, scoring Bernal for a 2-2 game. Barrett followed and singled through the right side, scoring Fettes for a one-run lead.
LSU took advantage of a UK miscue in the bottom of the seventh inning, as Mark Laird singled with one out. After the second out, Conner Hale hit a slow roller in the infield but the throw skipped in the dirt and allowed Laird to score from first base as the ball sailed down the rightfield line, making it 3-3.
GAME NOTES: Sophomore second baseman JaVon Shelby made his team-leading 78th consecutive start … Sophomore right-hander Zack Brown made his seventh appearance of the year and his sixth start … Brown has appeared in 26 games in his career and started 11 … Junior centerfielder Kyle Barrett appeared in his team-leading 117th career games, making his club-best 101st start … Junior Dorian Hairston stole his first base of the year and the second of his career … Junior catcher Greg Fettes threw out his third runner trying to steal … Hairston doubled for the third time in 2015 and the fourth time in his career … Freshman first baseman Evan White tripled for the first time in his career … White extended his hitting streak to a team-high nine games … Barrett extended his hitting streak to eight games … White was hit by his second pitch of the year … UK played its third extra-inning game of the year … UK won its first game at LSU since 2009, snapping a seven-game losing streak at Alex Box Stadium … Kentucky is 3-7 on the road … UK is 3-4 in the SEC … UK is 11-6 in March and 4-2 on Fridays … UK is now 7-9 vs. No. 1 ranked teams since 2003 and 7-7 in the Gary Henderson era … UK is now 3-2 in its blue uniform top and gray pants combination.