UK baseball takes first SEC series in nail-biter


Pitcher Zach Haake pitches the ball during the game against WKU on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won the game 4-3. Photo by Hunter Mitchell.

Charlee Schaefer

The No. 8 UK baseball team won its first SEC road series this weekend in Athens, Georgia, with a one-run win in the Saturday rubber match.

The first two games of the series were offensive surges from both sides, but the third remained scoreless until the eighth inning. In games one and two combined, the Cats and No. 18 Georgia Bulldogs scored 13 runs each.

In game one of the Saturday doubleheader, right-handed pitcher Zach Haake was sent to the hill.

Georgia’s Keegan McGovern gave Haake problems in the third inning, hitting a three-run home run to start the seven-run inning.

Brad Schaenzer was called from the bullpen after the home run. He immediately allowed three consecutive hits and three runs. The bullpen was then forced to put in a combined effort.

The Cats fought hard to attempt a second straight comeback but fell 9-7, forcing a rubber match to determine who would take the series.

In game two of the doubleheader, after Georgia had already used its typical Sunday starter to win the afternoon game, the Bulldogs turned to a freshman who had never started a game to give them a chance to win. C.J. Smith had only pitched 10 innings prior and had some big shoes to fill.

In the top of the seventh, Georgia’s Will Proctor intentionally walked Ben Aklinski to load the bases and Ryan Johnson was put in to pinch-hit. Proctor was credited with a walk and the Bulldogs immediately called on lefty Ryan Webb to get the out.

Webb got the necessary outs in the afternoon matchup to secure the win for his team, evading the series win from the Cats, and had plenty of gas left in the tank.

He was called on for the second time in the day to shut the door, not an issue for him as he typically starts on Sundays.

The Cats put up the first and only run of the game in the top of the eighth with a slow roller to the third baseman.

However, Georgia was not going to go quietly. The Bulldogs got the tying run in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth with two outs but a routine play ended the game.

The win was the first 1-0 win for UK since 2015.

So far this season, UK baseball still has not won the second game of an SEC series.

UK’s next game will be Tuesday, April 17, at 6 p.m. as the Cats travel to take on the Cardinals.