Down to its final strike twice in the ninth inning, No. 8 Kentucky staged a three-run rally to tie the game and Trey Dawson’s game-winning double in the 11th provided the most stirring victory of the season as the Wildcats downed No. 18 Georgia, 6-4, at Foley Field.
Trailing 4-1 entering the ninth, battled against one of the Southeastern Conference’s top closers to even the game. Luke Heyer drew a one-out walk, Kole Cottam sliced a two-strike, two-out single through the right side and T.J. Collett pulled an RBI double into the right field corner. Pinch hitter Ryan Johnson fouled off four two-strike pitches to eventually work a walk to load the bases before Ben Aklinski ripped a single past third base to score the tying runs.
From there, sophomore right-hander Chris Machamer blew through the Bulldogs in the ninth and 10th before Zeke Lewis walked and Johnson’s drew another 10-pitch walk. Trey Dawson then blistered a two-strike pitch into the left-centerfield gap to score both runners and provide all the scoring Machamer would need.
For eight innings the Cats must have felt snake-bitten, as Georgia’s defense seemed perfectly placed all night. Centerfielder Tucker Maxwell twice committed robbery in the early innings, making a diving grab of what looked like a sure double off the bat of Ben Aklinski in the second and then a leaping grab at the wall on a possible three-run, game-tying home run from T.J. Collett in the fourth.
But UK starter Sean Hjelle did his part, shaking off one bad pitch early in the game to work eight innings and keep the Cats within striking distance. Machamer then entered and pumped 94 and 95 mph fastballs by the Bulldogs to close it out.
Bottom 2nd – Cam Shepherd reached on an infield hit. Adam Sasser homered to RF. UGA 2, UK 0.
Bottom 3rd – Aaron Schunk singled to LF. Keegan McGovern homered to LF. UGA 4, UK 0.
Top 4th – Tristan Pompey walked and moved to second on Troy Squires’ single to LF. Luke Heyer singled through the left side, scoring Pompey. UGA 4, UK 1.
Top 9th – Heyer walked. Kole Cottam singled to RF. T.J. Collett doubled into the RF corner, scoring Heyer and moving Cottam to third. Zeke Lewis pinch ran for Collett. Ryan Johnson walked to load the bases. Ben Aklinski singled through the left side of the infield, scoring Heyer and Lewis. UK 4, UGA 4.
Top 11th – Lewis and Johnson walked. Trey Dawson doubled to LCF, scoring Lewis and Johnson. UK 6, UGA 4.
The Cats will play a doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. Game one will be streamed on SECN+ and game two air on the SEC Network.
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