A couple of sloppy plays by Alabama resulted in a three-run inning that was just enough for Kentucky to take a 3-2 win over the Crimson Tide at near-freezing Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington Friday night.
Alabama, which has won two of the three Southeastern Conference series it has played previously this year, lost for the first time in an SEC series opener. Alabama is now 18-12 overall and 5-5 in SEC games.
“Both sides played really well,” said Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard. “I thought Geoffrey (Bramblett) was tremendous tonight and had a great start for us. We just had the one inning where we misplayed the ball on the bunt, and then they come back with a couple hits and that was the difference in the game.”
Putting together another strong outing, starter Geoffrey Bramblett worked eight innings and struck out a season-high nine batters for the Crimson Tide. He allowed three runs on five hits with a walk and retired 11 straight from the second inning through the fifth. A single in the sixth broke the streak and was followed by a sacrifice bunt attempt that resulted in a throwing error and allowed the batter to reach and advance to second to put two in scoring position.
With first base open, a strikeout and wild pitch resulted in the batter reaching at first while the runner from third came home to give the Wildcats their first run. A double in the next at-bat cleared the bases and put Kentucky in front for good.
Alabama had taken a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Georgie Salem led off with a double to right-center and went to third on a sacrifice bunt. Chandler Avant’s double down the right field line scored Salem. Cobie Vance followed with a single to bring Avant in.
Chance Vincent reached with a two-out single in the ninth, but the Crimson Tide could not come back as the Wildcats took game one, 3-2.
The series continues at 1 p.m. CDT Saturday.