Baseball: Kentucky 6 Vanderbilt 2

LEXINGTON-- Vanderbilt struggled to put runs on the scoreboard for the second straight game as they fell, 6-2 in front of 1,991 fans at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The Commodore bats' were kept silent for the second consecutive outing against a veteran left-hander as Kentucky's Chris Rusin allowed two runs on seven hits in a complete game, 111-pitch effort.

The Commodores are now 1-8 this season when scoring less than five runs in a game.

With the loss, VU falls to 13-8 overall and 1-4 in the Southeastern Conference while the Wildcats improve to 15-5 overall and 3-2 in conference play.

Both teams went three-up and three-down in the first frame with both starting pitchers needing only a combined 12 pitches for the games first six outs. Vanderbilt's Caleb Cotham needed only 7 pitches to retire the Wildcats in the bottom of the first, while Rusin needed only five pitches to put down the Commodores in order in the top of first.

Vanderbilt got its first runners on base in the top of the second when Jason Esposito executed a perfect bunt down the third baseline for an infield single. Following Esposito's single Rusin put his second runner on base when he hit Riley Reynolds with a fastball, advancing Esposito to second. Once again VU couldn't capitalize on the opportunity as Rusin got Matt Marquis to ground into a fielders choice, stranding two runners on base and ending Vanderbilt's first offensive threat.

UK scored the first run of the game when Marcus Nidiffer hit a one-out solo shot over the left-field wall in the bottom of the second inning, giving the Wildcats an early 1-0 lead. It marked the sixth consecutive game where Vanderbilt's opponent has scored first. Following the homerun Cotham settled down to retire the Wildcats in order with a pair of strikeouts.

The Wildcats added to its lead in the bottom of the third when Cory Farris scored on a passed ball that got behind Drew Fann. Farris reached first base after being hit by Cottham and than advanced to third on Andy Burns single to center field. Once again Cotham limited the damge to a single run as he got Keenan Wiley to ground out to first base for the third out.

The Cats added three more runs in the bottom of the fourth when Vanderbilt helped the cause with a pass ball, wild pitch and error in the inning. The inning started with a leadoff single by UK's clean-up hitter Braden Kapteyn. Kapteyn advanced to second base on the play as the ball got by Joe Loftus in left field. After Cotham got Nidiffer down on strikes, Kentucky connected on a pair of singles with the second coming on Gunner Glad ‘s looping, seeing-eye single to center field, making the score 3-0 in favor of the Cats. Kentucky got its fourth run of the game when Cotham was called for a balk after he dropped the ball when toeing the rubber in the stretch. UK stretched its lead to five runs when Cotham's wild pitch got away from Fann, allowing Glad to come in and score.

Vanderbilt tried to get things going offensively in the top of the fifth when Esposito opened the inning with single through the left side. After Reynolds and Marquis fouled out the Commodores finally caught a break when Fann hit a sharp single off Rusin's glove that redirected the ball into shallow right field, allowing Esposito to advance to third. However in the next at-bat, Rusin got Brian Harris to ground into a fielder's choice, ending the inning.

VU handed the ball to Taylor Hill at the start of the fifth inning, closing the book on Cotham. The Mt. Juliet, Tenn., native left the game, allowing five runs, scattering five hits with four strikeouts in four innings of work.

The Cats added another run in the bottom of the seventh when Chris Wade drove a Hill fastball over the left-field wall for his fourth homerun of the season, giving Kentucky a 6-0 lead. After giving up the solo shot, Hill struckout the side, fanning UK's number three, four and five hitters.

With six outs remaining, Marquis connected on Vanderbilt's fourth hit of the game with a long single off the right field wall to start the eighth inning. After Rusin got Fann on strikes, Harris lined a single through the right side for the second hit of the inning. Following Harris' single, Steven Liddle worked the count to 2-2 before he laced a double down the left-field line, scoring Marquis from second base for VU's first run of the game. The ‘Dores cut the Wildcat lead to four (6-2) when Casali drove in Brian Harris from third base on a fieldier's choice while Liddle advanced to third. Vanderbilt had a chance to cut the lead in half, but Rusin put Westlake down on strikes, ending Vanderbilt's best rally of the game.

One of the few bright spots on the day came from Taylor Hill's effort out of the bullpen. The sophomore from Old Hickory, Tenn., allowed one run and four hits with six strikeouts in four innings of work.

"Overall, I thought I pitched pretty well today," Taylor Hill said after the game. "I had a feeling when they put me in that I would be out there for a while unless we came back and tied it up, but it was just one of those days where we couldn't get the offense going. We had some sharp hits that went right at somebody, that's just the way it goes sometimes."

Vanderbilt will look to get back on the winning track tomorrow in the third and final game of the series. Sunday's game will get underway with the opening pitch slated for 1 p.m. ET from Cliff Hagan Stadium. Vanderbilt will send right-hander Nick Christiani (2-0, 5.31 ERA) to the mound while Kentucky will counter with 6-foot-8 right-hander Alex Meyer (1-1, 5.06 ERA).

 
Vanderbilt 000 000 020 - 271            
Kentucky   011 300 10x - 690


Cotham, Hill (5) and Fann. Rusin and Nidiffer. W- Rusin 4-1, L- Cotham 3-2. 2B-Liddle (9); C. Bisson (8), G. Glad (1). HR- C. Wade (4); M. Nidiffer (4)

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