No. 12 Kentucky baseball bounces back, defeats No. 1 LSU 13-10 in game two


Travis Fannon

Kentucky Wildcats infielder Grant Smith (12) rounds second base after hitting a homerun during the No. 18 Kentucky vs. No. 25 Missouri baseball game on Saturday, April 1, 2023, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 10-0. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff

Jonathon Bruner, Reporter

No. 12 Kentucky Baseball (28-6) used its bats to even the series as it defeated the No. 1 LSU Tigers (28-6) by a score of 13-10 on Friday. 

The Wildcat offense got off to a slow start in the first, failing to score any runs after leaving runners stranded. 

The Wildcats came back to bat in the top of the second inning and broke into the scoring column when senior Chase Stanke sent a home run over the right field to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead. The deep ball would be the only scoring of the inning for the Cats.

Kentucky Wildcats catcher Chase Stanke (9) leads off from second base during the No. 18 Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky baseball game on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, at Nick Denes Field in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Kentucky won 10-8. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff (Jack Weaver)

The Tigers offense would match the Wildcats’ two runs and retake the lead. Kentucky would go quiet in the third and fourth inning, but a three-run bottom of the fourth by LSU would see the visitors down by four runs. 

Undeterred, redshirt sophomore Devin Burkes cashed in on an RBI opportunity as a single through the left side brought home Emilien Pitre and got the Wildcats one run closer.

A fielding error by the Tigers’ third baseman allowed Jase Felker to reach and loaded the bases full of Wildcats before Nolan McCarthy sent a triple to right field that tied the game at 6-6. 

Stanke continued his productive day as he sent a single up the middle and scored McCarthy to put the Wildcats ahead by a score of 7-6. 

Both offenses would be kept off the scoreboard in the sixth inning before the Wildcats came to bat in the seventh looking for some insurance.

After a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases, Stanke continued his impressive day with another single up the middle that brought home Burkes and extended the Wildcats’ lead to 8-6. 

Senior Grant Smith then flew out to center field, but the hit allowed Felker to tag up and score to add to the Wildcats’ lead before a single up the middle reloaded the bases.

Waldschmidt drew a four-pitch walk to bring home McCarthy and extend the Wildcats’ lead once again to 10-6. A quick single by Pitre then scored Stanke.

The Wildcats were not finished yet as Gilliam then flew out to right field and brought home Jackson Gray to cap off the Wildcats’ five-run seventh inning for a 12-6 lead.

After LSU scored one run in the seventh and a three in the eighth the Wildcats were once again looking to gain more separation in the top of the ninth inning.

They would get just that when Pitre came through with a single that brought home Gray and extended the Wildcats’ lead to the decisive 13-10 score. 

As far as the pitching goes for the Wildcats, senior Logan Martin got the ball to begin the game and he gave the Wildcats one-and-one-thirds innings.

Martin gave up a double that resulted in the first run of the game for the Tigers in the first inning, but he was able to escape the inning without further damage.

Kentucky Wildcats catcher Devin Burkes (7) throws the ball to second base during the No. 18 Kentucky vs. No. 25 Missouri baseball game on Sunday, April 2, 2023, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 3-1. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff (Travis_Fannon)

Martin returned to the mound in the second inning but after surrendering a run his day came to an abrupt end. He finished the day giving up three runs on three hits and two walks, striking out one batter.

Graduate student Darren Willaims was the first reliever to take the mound and he got the Wildcats out of the inning.

Williams came back out for the fourth inning and quickly found himself in a sticky situation. After giving up a run on a double the next LSU batter sent a home run over the center field wall and gave the Tigers two more runs. Willaims was able to escape the inning without any other runs allowed after the homer.

Williams came out again in the fifth inning, but his night would end after one out. He finished with three runs on three hits and three strikeouts across his three innings of work, receiving the win for his efforts to bring his season record to 3-0. 

Sophomore Mason Moore was next out of the bullpen, and he got out of the inning with no runs allowed.

Moore came back out in the bottom of the seventh and gave up one run before his night would end in the eighth after walking the first batter. He finished with two runs on one hit and three walks with one strikeout.

Junior Ryan Hagenow was next out of the bullpen, but he failed to get out of the inning before his night came to an end. Hagenow finished the night without recording an out while giving up two runs on two hits and also walked a batter.

Senior Ryder Giles was the final reliever out of the Wildcats’ bullpen, and he escaped the inning without any earned runs against him.

Giles came back to the mound looking to close the game in the bottom of the ninth and he was successful when a double play ended the game and secured the victory for the Wildcats. Giles received his first save of the year for his two innings with no hits allowed. 

The Wildcats will look to take the series in the finale on Saturday, April 15, at 2 p.m. EST.