ATHENS, Ga. -- Justin McClain ripped a two-run single that capped a three-run Georgia eighth inning as the Bulldogs came from behind to defeat the University of Kentucky baseball team in the Southeastern Conference series opener at Foley Field Friday night.
Joseph Blanton (3-5) lost his fourth straight game as the Cats' season-high losing streak went to six games.
The Wildcats (14-23, 3-13 SEC) got to the Bulldogs' (21-14, 9-7 SEC) starter Mickey Westphal early when Brad Pickrell ripped a triple down the left field line. The hit should have scored Spencer Graeter who led off the game with a walk but was picked off by Westphal before Pickrell connected on his third three-bagger of the season. Gordon Tyler followed up with a walk putting runners at first and third with one down, but Westphal worked himself out of the jam by forcing Caleb Stewart into a double-play grounder to short to end the inning.
Georgia rallied in their half of the first when Chaz Lytle pounded Joseph Blanton's first pitch of the game to left for a single and advanced to third on a throwing error by Blanton that went wide of first baseman Cory Hahn's reach. A successfully executed double-steal advanced David Coffey to second who reached on a walk and brought Lytle home to give UGA an early 1-0 lead.
The Dogs went to work on Blanton again in the third when Lytle blasted a leadoff triple to right-center and crossed home on a grounder by Lee Mitchell.
The Cats got things going in the top of the fourth when Pickrell and Tyler laced back-to-back singles to start the inning. Kentucky lit the scoreboard with a run when Stewart grounded to short but John Armitage's throw went wide of the base allowing Pickrell to score from second. Seth Morris then delivered with a RBI double down the left field line that brought Tyler in and even the score at 2-2.
UGA coach David Perno called on reliever Jeffery Carswell who replaced Westphal after giving up a two-out double to Russ Rutherford. Spencer Graeter came through against the Dogs' ace reliever with a triple to right that brought Rutherford home to put the Wildcats up 3-2.
Kentucky visited home plate again in the eighth when Caleb Stewart and Seth Morris placed singles to center and Stewart came home when Robert Newton drilled a pitch directly back to the mound that ricocheted off Carswell and rolled casually into right field.
The Dogs would not go away without a bark, placing the winning run at the plate with one out in their half of the eighth. Matt Cavender's high pop up cleared Graeter's range at second and fell in front of Morris in center to load the bases. Cory Hahn came on in relief of Blanton to walk in Lytle, shaving the lead to 4-3. UGA then put the game away when Justin CcClain's two-RBI single to left delivered the knock out punch.
Joseph Blanton moved into a ninth place tie on the UK single-season strikeout list by fanning seven batters. The Brownsville, Ky. native, currently has 92 strikeouts, passing Brandon Webb and Charlie Lloyd who recorded 90 in 1999 and 1961 respectively. Scott Downs posted 92 in 1996.
The series continues tomorrow at 4 p.m. ET that can be seen locally on FOX Sports Net South (Lexington Insight Cable Channel 52). Scott Wade (3-7, 6.55) will take the mound for UK while UGA will go with Brandon Moorhead (2-1, 4.19 ERA).
Kentucky 000 200 110 - 4 12 1
Georgia 101 000 03X - 5 7 1
Win: Carswell (3-3)
Loss: Blanton (3-5)