Shelby drives in seven in rubber-match win at UGA
ATHENS, Ga. -- All-America third baseman JaVon Shelby belted two home runs, drove in seven runs and added a triple, leading Kentucky to a 14-6 win at Georgia in the series rubber match, on a pleasant Sunday afternoon at Foley Field.
Kentucky (14-5, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) rode the career outing from Shelby to the rubber-match win, which marked UK's third consecutive series win at Georgia. UK got a 3-for-5 game from Shelby, with a career-best seven RBI, two home runs and a triple. It marks the most RBI for a UK player in a game since Ryan Wilkes had eight RBI vs. Wright State in 2008.
The Wildcats also got another two-hit game from Gunnar McNeill, who drove in a run. Freshman catcher Kole Cottam and sophomore second baseman Luke Becker each had a pair of hits and an RBI. Zach Reks, Evan White, Tristan Pompey and Riley Mahan each collected hits, with White scoring a career-high five runs, the most for a UK player since 2009.
UK starter Kyle Cody worked 3.2 innings, allowing seven hits and six runs, walking two and striking out three. He was relieved by senior Zach Strecker in the fourth to escape the jam. Sophomore lefty Zach Logue (1-0) started the fifth in relief of Strecker and Cody, working through the fifth inning to pick up his first win of the year. Freshman righty Justin Lewis, a native of Suwanee, Ga., started the sixth firing four perfect innings, allowing just a hit and walk, striking out three to earn his third save of the year.
Georgia (14-7, 1-2 SEC) starter Connor Jones (3-1) worked 3.2 innings, allowing five hits and seven runs, walking two and striking out five. UGA also used Blake Cairnes, Bo Tucker and Drew Moody in relief.
Kentucky will return to action on Tuesday, hosting Morehead State at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
For the second consecutive game, UK struck in the first inning for an early lead. White reached on a one-out, five-pitch walk and after the second out, McNeill poked a high fastball down the opposite-field line, scoring the speedy White from first base.
Daniel Nichols evened up the game in the bottom of the second inning, pulling a 3-1 offering over the fence in rightfield for his fourth homer of the year.
The Wildcats regained the lead in the third inning, starting with Becker, who reached on a dropped third strike to open the frame. After a sacrifice bunt, White pushed Becker to third with a one-hop missile off the forearm of third baseman Mitchell Webb. Shelby the worked the count to 1-2, before drilling a fastball that was down and away for his fifth home run of the year, over the left-centerfield fence for a 4-1 UK lead.
In the fourth inning, Mahan led off the frame with a flare single down the leftfield line. After a strikeout, Becker doubled down the leftfield line, scoring Mahan. White followed with a two-out walk and Shelby greeted Cairnes with a triple off the wall in centerfield, scoring White and Becker.
Georgia rallied in the fourth, as Nichols drew a one-out walk and LJ Talley singled through the right side. After a strikeout with runners on the corners and one out, Nick King beat out a high hopping infield single to load the bases. Skyler Weber drilled the first pitch he saw into the left-centerfield gap, scoring Talley and Sasser, with Weber taking second on the throw to third base. Stephen Wrenn then singled to rightfield to score a pair and cut the lead to 7-6.
UK got a run back in the fifth, as Cottam delivered a two-out RBI single up the middle, scoring Pompey, who doubled off the wall in centerfield with one out.
Kentucky got the second homer of the game from Shelby in the sixth inning, as the third baseman greeted Tucker's first pitch of the outing over the leftfield fence for a two-run homer, scoring White, who singled to open the frame.
In the ninth inning, Cottam and Becker singled with one out and Reks drew a walk to load the bases. White then drilled a liner back to the mound that knocked the mitt off the pitcher, with the throw to first sailing down the rightfield line, allowing three runs to score and White to take third.