Kentucky rebounds for big 3-2 win over Vanderbilt


Kentucky Wildcats infielder Daniel Harris IV (1) drops a fly ball during the UK vs. Bellarmine baseball game on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 3-2. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Ali Cetinok

After a disappointing loss Friday night which saw UK get no-hit, the Wildcats were able to win the second of a three-game series against Vanderbilt at Kentucky Proud Park on Saturday afternoon, snapping a five-game losing streak. 

Zack Lee would take the mound for the Wildcats for just the second time this season, while Carter Holton started for the visitors.   

After three innings that showed great pitching from both sides, Kentucky was able to record its first hit of the series after Alonzo Rubalcaba ripped the ball into left field for a double. The Cats, however, were unable to take advantage, with Ryan Ritter and Hunter Jump both grounding out to end the inning.  

In the top of the fourth, Vanderbilt was able to break the seal after Parker Noland got on base with a line drive up the middle. Parker would come around to score after Matthew Polk shot a line drive that cleared the wall for a two-run homer.  

The Cats were then able to respond in the bottom half of the fourth, after Chase Estep earned himself a free trip to first after being clipped by a pitch. Adam Fogel got every stitch of the ball from an elevated fastball from Holton with a moon-shot home run to tie the game at two.  

The top of the fifth inning would show how the rest of the game was going to go, with great pitching from Lee who earned himself a 1-2-3 inning  

The bottom of the fifth would be the difference between the two, however. After redshirt freshman Nolan McCarthy earned a base hit up the middle, Rubalcaba placed down a sac-bunt. This allowed McCarthy to advance to second. This would prove to be especially important with the next at-bat.

Ritter would show off his clutch hitting with a base hit in between first and second to bring home McCarthy, to take the lead for the first time in the series3-2, which would end up being the game winning run for the Cats.   

The next inning would see the end of the day for Lee, who showed a very impressive performance with his dangerous fastball, change up and breaking ball proving to be too much for the Commodores. Lexington native Tyler Guilfoil would come to take Lee’s place for his 15th appearance of the season.  

Guilfoil would then go on to impress Wildcat fans by facing three and retiring three Commodores, which would end up being a monumental momentum swing for Kentucky. Guilfoil would go on to pitch lights-out including a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth.   

He earned himself his fourth save of 2022 in the ninth inning after striking out Vanderbilt’s Carter Young to end the game and improve Kentucky’s record to 22-17 (6-11 Southeastern Conference).  

The win on Saturday was particularly important for the Cats after there was deep concern for the pitching staff, with the former Lafayette High School pitcher Guilfoil saving the day for Kentucky.  

Saturday’s win for Kentucky will be a source of inspiration for the team who look to stack wins and win the series vs Vanderbilt (27-11, 8-9 in SEC) on Sunday, April 24 at Kentucky Proud Park. The game is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. EST.