LEXINGTON, Ky. – A pair of late-inning home runs helped No. 22 Vanderbilt salvage the final game of a three-game weekend series, thwarting No. 16 Kentucky’s bid for its first sweep of the Commodores in 17 years. The Wildcats still claimed the series and are 7-2 in Southeastern Conference play heading into a stretch of seven road games in the next two weeks.
Riley Mahan hit a pair of home runs, doubled and tied a career-high with four RBI as part of a 3-for-4 day at the plate. He drove in all four UK runs and recorded just his second three extra-base hit game of his career. He doubled in a run in the first inning, hit a solo home run well into the parking lot beyond the right field wall in the fourth and crushed a two-run jack onto the deck in right-centerfield in the seventh.
The crowd of 3,512 on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium was treated to back and forth baseball, with UK leading 2-1 through five innings. But the Cats (21-8, 7-2 SEC) also missed some opportunities, leaving the bases loaded in both the fifth and sixth innings and enduring a bit of misfortune in the first when Luke Becker stumbled rounding third base on Mahan’s double, on which he would have scored easily.
UK now turns its attention to an important stretch of the schedule, traveling to No. 2 Louisville on Tuesday night and a streaking Mississippi State – where UK coach Nick Mingione was an assistant before arriving in Lexington – next weekend. After a midweek home tilt with UT Martin the following week the Cats wrap the road stretch with a series at Missouri.
AT THE PLATE
Riley Mahan hit a pair of home runs, doubled and tied a career-high with four RBI as part of a 3-for-4 day at the plate. He drove in all four UK runs and recorded just his second three extra-base hit game of his career. He doubled in a run in the first inning, hit a solo home run well into the parking lot beyond the right field wall in the fourth and crushed a two-run jack onto the deck in right-centerfield in the seventh. However, the Cats left 10 men on bases, including the bases loaded in both the fifth and sixth innings.
ON THE MOUND
Sophomore starter Justin Lewis danced in and out of trouble all day, ultimately allowing just two runs on eight hits in five innings. Lewis wasn’t as sharp as usual, walking five batters after having allowed just seven total walks in his first six starts. Zach Pop got out of a jam in the sixth but allowed a two-run home run in the seventh and took the loss. Logan Salow extended his hitless inning streak to 10 before giving up a solo homer in the ninth.
Top 1st – Jeren Kendall walked and stole second. Julian Infante singled off UK pitcher Justin Lewis’ glove with Kendall moving to third. Will Toffey singled to CF, scoring Kendall. Vandy 1, UK 0.
Bottom 1st – Evan White reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to second on Luke Becker’s walk. Riley Mahan doubled into the RF corner to score White. UK 1, Vandy 1.
Bottom 4th – Mahan homered to RF. UK 2, Vandy 1.
Top 6th – Harrison Ray drew a leadoff walk and moved to third on Connor Kaiser’s single to LF. Alonzo Jones singled home Ray. UK 2, Vandy 2.
Top 7th –Infante singled to center. Toffey homered to CF. Reed Hayes and Jason Delay walked. Hayes stole third. Harrison Ray grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Hayes. Vandy 5, UK 2.
Bottom 7th – Becker walked and scored on Mahan’s second home run of the game. Vandy 5, UK 4.
Top 9th – Infante homered to CF. Vandy 6, UK 4.