Kentucky takes down top-ranked LSU on Ka’ai Tom’s 12th-inning double


BATON ROUGE, La. — A two-out, two-RBI double from Ka’ai Tom in the top of the 12th inning lifted Kentucky to a 5-4 win at No. 1 LSU, in front of 11,118 on a perfect Friday night at Alex Box Stadium.

Kentucky (17-9, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) fell behind early after the Tigers plated two runs in the second inning, getting RBI from Jake Fraley and Chris Sciambra.

The Wildcats broke up a no-hit bid from LSU starter Jared Poche’ in the fifth inning, and then collected five hits in the top of the seventh inning, taking a 3-2 lead. The Tigers then pounced on a two-out throwing error that allowed the tying run to score from first base, with UK escaping the jam in a tied game.

The two teams were held scoreless until a golden chance in the bottom of the 11th inning, when the Tigers got a rally sparked on a leadoff single from Jake Fraley. Jared Foster then rolled a ball into the hole on the left side, with shortstop Connor Heady ranging to his right and his off-balance throw sailing wide of the bag. Greg Deichmann then grounded into a double play that pushed Fraley to third base with Mark Laird at the plate. After UK intentionally walked the bases loaded with two outs, Conner Hale ripped a line drive in the gap on the right side, plunking Alex Bregman with the hit, ending the 11th inning.

After a pair of outs at the bottom of the order started the top of the 12th inning, Kyle Barrett smacked a single through the right side and Evan White forced him to second after getting plunked by a 3-1 pitch. That brought Ka’ai Tom to the plate, who smashed a 1-2 offering, with the ball skipping over the head of first baseman Chris Chinea for a two-RBI double, scoring Barrett and a White for a 5-3 lead.

Highlights from #UKbaseball‘s 12-inning win at No. 1 LSU on Friday night:

— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 28, 2015

UK starter Zack Brown kept the Wildcats in the game with a gutsy performance, working 6.2 innings, allowing nine hits and three runs — two earned — walking three and striking out three, with the game-tying run scoring on a two-out throwing error. With the tying run on third and two outs in the seventh, UK turned to Dylan Dwyer, who escaped the jam. Dwyer worked one inning, allowing a walk, before Andrew Nelson got the final out of the eighth. Junior Zach Strecker (2-0) took over to start the bottom of the ninth, working three innings, allowing four hits and issuing two intentional walks.

After a leadoff error in the 12th inning, UK turned to lefty Logan Salow to face left-handed hitting Andrew Stevenson. Stevenson chopped a grounder to the right side, with the attempt to field, apply the tag and throw to first base for the double play creating a second error to open the frame. After the second error, UK turned to senior right-hander Spencer Jack in relief. Jack got a deep fly out, scoring LSU’s fourth run, and a grounder to end the game, picking up his fourth save of the year.

Kentucky was paced at the plate by a three-hit game from senior third baseman Thomas Bernal. UK also got hits from White, Tom, Kyle Barrett, Dorian Hairston, Greg Fettes and Connor Heady.

The win marked the seventh win over a No. 1 team in the UK head coach Gary Henderson era, with Henderson owning a 7-7 record against top-ranked foes. Earlier in 2015, Henderson became the fastest coach in UK history to achieve 200 wins.

LSU’s (22-4, 4-3 SEC) starter Poche’ worked 6.2 innings, allowing six hits and three runs, not issuing and walk and striking out three. Parker Bugg escaped the seventh with an out, before giving way to Zac Person, who worked a shutout eighth. Dynamic freshman closer Jesse Stallings (0-1) took over to start the ninth inning, working 3.2 innings, allowing four hits and two runs, walking one hitter intentionally. Austin Bain came on to get the final out of the 12th inning.

#UKbaseball opens the series with a 5-4 win at No. 1 LSU in 12 innings. Ka’ai Tom with game-winning double.

— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 28, 2015

Scott Harrigan
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