Just a day after leaving the game-tying runner on base in the ninth inning of Friday's 7-6 loss to Tennessee, Kentucky (19-5, 3-2) scored 5 runs in its final inning to help propel them to a 6-1 road upset of the 12th-ranked Vols (19-6, 1-1) Saturday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Playing under chilly conditions that saw several moments of snowfall, the Wildcats and Volunteers played to a 1-1 tie for 8 innings of stagnate baseball.
"We just had to put some good at-bats together," junior John Shelby said. "Craig Snipp pitched a real good game for us. We just needed to get some hits together and get the win for him. Brock (Baber) may get the W, but Snipp was the one that won it for us."
A leadoff double by first baseman Ryan Strieby set the scene for the Lexington (Ky.) native, Shelby, to be the hero in the ninth.
"I was 0 for 3 going into the bat and had seen nothing but curve balls and change-ups, so I was trying to look for those pitches again," Shelby said. "I was really sitting on the change up, waiting for it to come and it came. When I saw it, I was just trying to drive it."
Shelby, the junior second baseman and pre-season All-SEC standout, did more than just drive it. He delivered a crushing 2 run-home run with Strieby on third that ultimately staved off the Volunteers and pushed the Wildcats up front, 3-1 and ultimately to another big win.
"It's definitely a big game for us to win," Shelby explained. "It once again shows that we can not only compete in the SEC, but we're gonna be one of the top teams this year."
The blast was Shelby's fourth of the season and his 20th and 21st RBI's of the year. The junior had struggled this year to date, batting only .234 coming into the series.
His ninth-inning blast was just his second hit of the series.
"I'm still struggling a little bit," Shelby added. "I just try and take every pitch and every at-bat for what it is and move on. I'm still confident in myself and know that things will work out. I'm gonna come out tomorrow and do the same things I've been doing, work hard and try to hit line drives."
Outfielder Shaun Lehman would add another two-run home-run moments later to add additional insurance, but it was Shelby who was the story of the game.
The series is tied now at a game a piece. The Cats and Vols will go for the series win on Sunday at 2 pm in Knoxville. The Cats are expected to pitch right hander Greg Dombrowski, (4-0, 1.26) versus righty Josh Lindblom (4-1, 2.75).
"Last year and the years in the past are gone for us and this win is just another win that shows that we're moving on," Shelby said. "I believe that when the year is over, we're gonna be at top of the SEC."