The Kentucky Wildcats continued their conference schedule with their first game of a weekend series against the No. 22 Tennessee Volunteers on Thursday evening. After dropping their first home game in two weeks against instate rival Louisville earlier in the week, the Cats managed to nearly upset their conference foes, but fell to Tennessee 4-2 after the Vols’ late home runs.
Tennessee’s leadoff triple followed immediately by a single gave the Volunteers an early lead with the first run of the game. The Cats reached base in their half of the first but still got out on a double play from the Vols’ infield.
The Cats cleaned up their pitching from their sporadic job in their previous game against Louisville. Starter Jimmy Ramsey struck out seven batters in six innings, had one shutdown inning, three walks and allowed only three hits. He threw a career-high pitch count to get the Cats to a much stronger start on the mound than they have been putting up against ranked teams.
Senior Ryan Shinn became the first Kentucky player to get double-digit home runs in the 2019 season. His tenth home run launched into the left field bullpen off his second pitch and tied the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth.
Shinn soon shared the ten-home run record of the season with junior TJ Collett, who gave Kentucky the first home run ever hit over the center field wall in Kentucky Proud Park to take over the lead from the Vols.
Pitching continued to shine for the Cats when Daniel Harper opened his night with a shutdown inning in the seventh. The field defense from the Cats also attributed to their success as only five hits successfully came from the Volunteers bench throughout the whole night.
The success of the Cats turned around quickly in the eighth when Tennessee hit a two-run homer off a lamppost on the concourse to steal the lead back late in the game. Continuing their eighth inning success, they manage another solo homerun over the visiting bullpen to have their score doubling that of the Cats.
Kentucky pulled every last string they had by having several batters pinch hit or run for their players in the lineup all night, but the Vols kept them down until the final pitch to take the first win of the series after striking out the Cats’ final batter on a 3-2 count.
The Wildcats and the Volunteers will continue their series at Kentucky Proud Park on Friday, April 19. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.