Kentucky's Max Kuhn drew a bases-loaded, two-out walk in the bottom of the 10th inning Friday to force in the winning run for the Wildcats in a 3-2 series-opening win over Georgia at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
"Going up, I was ready to swing the bat," Kuhn said. "I was hoping to get a first-pitch strike or something to get the bat off my shoulders. I wanted to swing. Fortunately, I just saw four balls."
"You have to win games like that because you're going to play them," UK head coach Gary Henderson said. "You're going to play low-scoring games. That was certainly by no estimation a pretty game, I wouldn't think."
Eighth-ranked Kentucky (20-5, 5-2 SEC) saw its 2-1 lead erased in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Bulldogs plated a game-tying run with two outs and two strikes off UK closer Trevor Gott.
After a scoreless bottom of the ninth, the Wildcats mounted the game-winning rally in the 10th. Shortstop Matt Reida drew a one-out walk. Georgia turned to closer Jared Walsh in relief to face UK All-American Austin Cousino, who also drew a walk. Zac Zellers followed with another base-on-balls to load them up.
Adding to the drama, Reida was thrown out at home attempting to score on a wild pitch with A.J. Reed at the plate. Reed was then hit by a pitch to reload the bases and set up Kuhn's game-winning at-bat.
The walk was Kuhn's team-high 23rd of the season, with the sophomore infielder owning a 23-16 walk-strikeout ratio.
Reed started the game on the mound for Kentucky, working 8.1 strong innings. The sophomore left-hander allowed only six hits and one run without issuing a walk. He left with a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth with the normally-clutch Gott taking over for the save attempt.
Gott, the UK single-season and career save record holder, got the first two outs and worked pinch hitter Jess Posey – brother of MLB MVP Buster Posey – to a 1-2 count before the UGA star lined a single the opposite way to score the game-tying run and give Gott his first blown save of 2013 and his first in a span of 16 consecutive save chances. Gott worked 1.2 innings, allowing three hits and one run.
"(Gott) left two balls up," Henderson said. "He threw two 3-2 pitches and he left two of them up. Tonight they got through. But he's the least of our concerns. Trevor Gott, he's a good one."
UK collected eight hits in the game, with Cousino and freshman rightfielder Kyle Barrett leading the club with two hits each. Cousino went 2-for-3 with two RBI and two walks, ripping a two-run double in the fifth inning to give UK a 2-1 lead. Barrett went 2-for-3, with UK also getting hits from Reed, J.T. Riddle, Paul McConkey and Micheal Thomas.
Georgia (9-18, 0-7 SEC) starter Sean McLaughlin worked eight strong innings, allowing eight hits and two runs, walking one and striking out seven. Lefty Jarrett Brown worked 1.1 innings, allowing just one walk and one strikeout. Walsh (1-3) took the loss, allowing the decisive run on three walks with one out recorded.
The series will resume on Saturday, with first pitch set for 2 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. UK will send senior southpaw Jerad Grundy (5-1, 1.99 ERA) to mound to face Georgia junior southpaw Patrick Boling (1-3, 3.93 ERA).
Walk-off walk gives Cats win over UGA
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