No. 23 Kentucky baseball suffers game three loss at Alabama ending nation’s longest win streak


Travis Fannon

Kentucky Wildcats catcher Devin Burkes (7) stands in the infield during the Kentucky vs. Indiana State baseball game on Saturday, March 4, 2023, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 4-2. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff

Jonathon Bruner, Reporter

No. 23 Kentucky Baseball (21-3) dropped game three of its road SEC series and lost its 17-game winning streak to the Alabama Crimson Tide (18-6) by a score of 4-3 on Sunday.

Senior Zack Lee got the start on the mound for the series finale and gave the Wildcats five and one-third innings.

Lee’s start was not without fault as he hit the first batter before giving up a single to the next batter, setting up the next hitter to lay down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners to scoring position.

Kentucky Wildcat Zack Lee (48) pitches during the University of Kentucky vs. Georgia State game on Sunday, March 14, 2021, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 4-2. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Not long after a foul out would bring home an early run for the Tide, though it would be the only run in the inning as Lee left the other runner stranded in scoring position. 

Lee would settle into the game in the second and third innings as he retired the Tide in order in both. The fourth would then be a critical inning for him as he recorded two quick outs before beginning to lose some control of his pitches.

He hit a batter then walked two more to load the bases, though he would find his command enough to get a groundout to get the Cats out of the jam.

Lee came back out for the fifth inning and made quick work of the Tide as he retired the side in order and, while he returned for the sixth inning, he did not finish the inning on the mound.

After a strikeout, a single and a walk would end Lee’s afternoon with the senior having given up two runs on two hits and three walks. He also struck out five batters in his outing.

The first pitcher out of the Wildcats’ bullpen was sophomore Mason Moore, who took the mound with two runners on. He was able to record an out, but a single through the right side would score another run for the Tide, which would count against Lee. 

Moore came back out back out for the seventh inning and was able to have a scoreless frame, though it would be his last inning on the mound for the afternoon, finishing his day with no runs on one hit and one walk with one strikeout. 

Seth Chavez was next on the hill for the Wildcats in the eighth inning, recording a quick out to open the frame, though a walk and a double would put runners on second and third for the Tide.  

Unfortunately for Kentucky, when the runner on third attempted to go home on a ground ball to first, first baseman Hunter Gilliam slipped whilst trying to make the throw home and, even though the throw beat the runner, he was able to avoid the tag and score a run for the Tide. 

Kentucky Wildcats infielder Hunter Gilliam (14) runs down the first baseline after hitting a homerun during the Kentucky vs. Indiana State baseball game on Sunday, March 5, 2023, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 7-6. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff (Travis Fannon)

The runner who then reached first on the play later scored on a single to left field that brought home what would ultimately be the winning run for the Tide.

This hit would also end the day for Chavez, finishing his day with two runs on two hits and one walk. Unfortunately for Chavez, he was also tagged with the loss, moving his season record to 2-1. 

On the other side of the ball, the Wildcats’ offense wasted no time getting on the board when senior Jackson Gray opened the game with a single to the pitcher. Gray then advanced into scoring position on a passed ball by the Tide catcher before a sacrifice bunt by senior Jase Felker got Gray to third base with only one out in the first inning.

Redshirt sophomore Devin Burkes would get the Wildcats on the board with a single through the left side to bring home Felker and give the Wildcats an early 1-0 lead. 

The Wildcats came up to the plate in the second inning with the game tied as Alabama had matched Kentucky’s first inning run. Sophomore Nolan McCarthy would draw a walk to give the Wildcats a one-out base runner before sophomore Patrick Herrera singled to right field, with McCarthy ending up at third on the play. 

Small ball would prevail again for the Wildcats as a sacrifice bunt by senior Grant Smith broke the tie and gave the Wildcats a 2-1 lead after two innings of play. 

The Kentucky offense would cool down until the seventh inning in what was then a tie game once again when Smith came up with one down in the inning and sent a home run over the centerfield wall to give the Wildcats a 3-2 lead.

Unfortunately for Kentucky, when the Wildcats were down to their final three outs in the game after the eighth inning rally gave the Tide the lead, senior Chase Stanke gave a ball a ride to right field, but it stayed in the yard and was the deciding third out of the inning to end the game. 

The Wildcats will look to bounce back from the loss when they travel to Bowling Green, Kentucky, to play the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on Tuesday, March 28, at 6 p.m. EST.