Kentucky's third win of the new baseball season came in strikingly-different fashion than the previous two, but bore a familiar resemblance to many of its victories last season.
The No. 8 Wildcats had won their first two games by a combined score of 29-5, but found themselves training USC Upstate 10-6 in the eighth inning of Monday's game in Spartanburg, S.C., before rallying for an 11-10 win.
J.T. Riddle's ninth-consecutive hit over three days was a solo home run that helped spark Kentucky (3-0). Max Kuhn, Lucas Witt and Matt Reida then found their way on base prior to a wild pitch and an error plating three runs to tie the game.
The Wildcats won it in the ninth on Thomas Bernal's two-out, pinch-hit single to score pinch-runner Kyle Barrett, who had come on to run for A.J. Reed following a walk.
UK closer Trevor Gott (1-0) picked up the win, working two scoreless innings.
"It kind of carries over from last year," Gott said of the club's mental toughness and ability to come back from late deficits. "We had lot of games like that. When we are down 6-10 we know we are going to win. That is just the mentality of the dugout, the feel of the dugout. Our offense does a great job. No one ever gets down, we are pretty mentally tough."
"A lot of things to like today," UK head coach Gary Henderson said. "Being down four on the road and coming back and getting four in the fifth and one in the ninth is a really positive thing for the kids. Really pleased with Trevor Gott, obviously. I thought Ryne Combs and Chandler Shepherd out of the bullpen showed some good things. Clearly they are both going to get better. I thought the at bats in the eighth and the ninth, when it got a little tight was really good for us."
Riddle's red-hot bat has carried the Wildcats early this season. He went 2-for-3 with two RBI coming off his school-record 6-for-6 performance on Sunday. The second junior second baseman from Frankfort is now batting .786 with an .824 on-base percentage and a 1.357 slugging percentage through three games.
The Cats also got two-hit games from Thomas, Witt and Austin Cousino.
Kentucky starter Corey Littrell had a bumpy debut to his season, allowing seven runs on nine hits and two walks through 3.1 innings of work. He was replaced in the fourth inning by freshman southpaw Ryne Combs, who went one inning, allowing three hits and one run in his collegiate debut. Sophomore righty Chandler Shepherd took over for Combs, working 2.2 innings, allowing two hits and two runs before giving way to Gott.
UK will return to action with the Carravelle Resort Invitational, hosted by Coastal Carolina, on Friday vs. Elon at 12 p.m. ET at Pelicans Park.
• Paul McConkey recorded his second career extra-base hit with a double in the second inning.
• Corey Littrell picked off a runner in the second inning, marking his eighth pickof in the last two years.
• Austin Cousino extended his hitting streak to seven games dating back to the end of the 2012 season. He also stole his fourth base of the season.
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