VMI hands Cats first loss of season

It took a wild finish to hand UK Baseball its first loss of the season. After the Wildcats grabbed a lead in the top of the ninth, VMI ralled for two runs in the bottom of the frame with the help of some defensive lapses to beat UK 10-9.

It took a wild finish to hand UK Baseball its first loss of the season.

After rallying to take a one-run lead into the bottom of the ninth, Kentucky was burned by a pair of errors that set up a two-run, walk-off single by Cameron Walter in a 10-9 win for VMI.

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It was the finale of the Hughes Brothers Invitations, which saw Kentucky (2-1) beat No. 1 Virginia on Friday and UNC-Wilmington on Saturday.

The Wildcats jumped out to a 4-0 lead and extended it to 7-3 by scoring in each of the first four innings, but VMI got some solid relief work to hold UK scoreless from the fifth to the eighth inning.

VMI (1-2) took an 8-7 lead with a four-run frame in the bottom of the eighth only to see UK battle back with two runs in the top of the ninth.

Kentucky turned to Zach Strecker in hopes of closing out the win, but defense let down the sophomore right-hander. Entering the season, UK coach Gary Henderson had warned that defense could suffer due to the harsh winter conditions that has limited the Cats' outdoor practice time.

Strecker enduced four consecutive ground balls on the left side of the infield, but only one was recorded as an out. Shortstop Matt Reida mishandled one ball, another was an infield hit, and third baseman Max Kuhn misplayed a potential game-ending double-play ball to set up VMI's game-winner.

Andrew Woods started and worked three innings for VMI, allowing four earned runs on seven hits. Taylor Edens, a member of the NCBWA's Stopper of the Year watch list, worked four strong innings for the Keydets, allowing only one hit and striking out four. Jonathan Kelley worked a perfect inning while Travis Thomas (1-0) picked up the win after pitching the ninth inning.

Kyle Cody started for UK, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits and two walks in 3.1 innings. It was a rough outing for the Cats' bullpen as Andrew Nelson, Taylor Martin, Matt Snyder and Strecker (0-1) each surrendered runs.

Offensively, the Cats got another two-hit game from junior centerfielder Austin Cousino, who recorded his first home run of the season. He's hitting .429 through three games. Junior A.J. Reed added two hits from his DH spot.

UK is hitting .296 with 13 extra-base hits as a team this season.

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