No. 13 Batcats take series from No. 21 Vandy

NASHVILLE - Ryan Strieby drove in four runs for the second straight game and John Shelby knocked in three as No. 13 Kentucky clinched the series with a 12-9 victory over 21st-ranked Vanderbilt on Sunday at Hawkins Field.

The win was UK's sixth in its last seven games as the Wildcats kept pace with South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division race. Kentucky (34-11, 13-8) won its second SEC road series of the year after winning just three on the road in the five previous seasons. Vanderbilt (27-18, 11-9) fell two games back in the division race.

As they had all weekend, the Wildcats got nothing going offensively early on. The offense managed just one hit in the first five innings and trailed 2-0 heading into the sixth. However, just like in the previous two games, UK came alive to pound the Commodore pitching staff down the stretch.

Kentucky scored four runs in both the sixth and the eighth sandwiched around a one-run seventh. The Wildcats tacked on what looked to be a meaningless three runs in the ninth that turned out to be of extreme importance.

Entering the bottom of the ninth, UK led 12-4 before the fireworks started. David Macias led off with an infield single and Pedro Alvarez was walked. Dominic de la Osa and Ryan Flaherty followed with back-to-back singles to plate one before the first out of the inning finally came on a fielder's choice.

Consecutive singles by Ryan Davis and Shea Robin made it 12-8 with two runners on. That brought on Andrew Albers, Kentucky's third pitcher of the inning and sixth of the game. He hit the first batter he faced before striking out Matt Meingasner for the second out.

Albers appeared to get Macias to ground out to end the game, but Matt McKinney's throw couldn't be corralled by John Shelby at second base and another run scored to make it 12-9. That brought Alvarez to the plate with the bases loaded, but Albers got him to bite on a curve ball to end the game.

Albers earned the save, his third of the year and second of the week.

After producing just one hit in the first five frames, Kentucky exploded for four runs on just two hits in the sixth. Antone DeJesus was hit to start the inning and Strieby and Sean Coughlin drew one-out walks. One batter later, John Shelby extended his hitting streak to 10 with a three-run double to left-center field. McKinney followed with a double to make it 4-2.

Starting pitcher Cody Crowell, who entered the game with the best ERA in the SEC in conference games, didn't make it through the fifth and took the loss to fall to 5-3. He gave up four runs on three hits while walking two and hitting two.

However, the Vandy bullpen didn't do much better as Coughlin doubled home Strieby in the seventh for a 5-2 lead before the Commodores made it interesting in their half of the inning.

Vanderbilt had a big inning in the works, going station to station on five straight singles to open the inning and cutting the lead to 5-4. However, Matt Robinson came on with the bases loaded and nobody out to get de la Osa to foul out. Chris Rusin entered after him, threw two pitches and got two foul outs to end the inning.

Wildcat starter Greg Dombrowski was chased after the first two singles of the inning, but still earned the win. He allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings of work while striking out three and improving to 8-1. The win total is the most by an SEC pitcher since 1996 and is also tied for the best in the SEC.

Kentucky pounded its way to four more runs in the eighth, using three walks an Antone DeJesus single and a three-run double by Strieby.

Leading comfortably 9-4 heading into the ninth, UK's Billy Grace hit a two-run home run before Strieby added an RBI single for three needed insurance runs.

Notes: John Shelby extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a pair of hits ... He has driven in 15 and has 11 extra-base hits during the streak ... Ryan Strieby drove in four runs for the second straight game and had nine RBIs in the series ... Strieby extended his hitting streak to eight games ... He has an extra base hit in seven of the eight games, including four straight ... Billy Grace hit his sixth home run of the year ... During the series, Kentucky scored two runs in innings 1-4 and scored 27 in innings 5-9 ... Greg Dombrowski's eighth win is the most for a UK player since 1996 and tied for the most since 1988 ... Dombrowski has won two straight games ... Kentucky's 13 SEC wins are the most since 1999 ... The 34 overall wins are already eighth most in school history and the team has 10 more games scheduled.

AllWildcats Top Stories