May 14, 2011
LEXINGTON, KY.----- Kentucky’s 17-hit attack Saturday featured four home runs as the Wildcats registered a 12-5 win over Georgia at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (24-27, 7-19 SEC) went up 1-0 in the bottom of the first off Michael Palazzone and the Bulldogs. Senior right fielder Neiko Johnson lined a leadoff double to left field, went to third on a balk and scored on a passed ball on freshman Brandon Stephens. For Palazzone, it was his first balk of the year. Left fielder Chad Wright reached on a one-out double and scored on a base hit by third baseman Thomas McCarthy (4-for-5, two home runs, 4 RBI) for an early 2-0 lead.
In the second, Kentucky exploded for five runs on seven hits including a grand slam by shortstop Taylor Black. It was his third home run of the year and made it 7-0. A lone bright spot in the inning came from junior left fielder Zach Cone who collected his fifth assist of the year, throwing out McCarthy trying to score. The Bulldogs answered with a four-run outburst in the third, getting RBI from Cone, Chase Davidson, Brett DeLoach and Jonathan Hester. Georgia sent eight men to the plate in that frame, scoring four runs on four hits off freshman left-hander Cory Littrell. DeLoach and Hester delivered two-out RBI to keep the rally going. In the fourth, Cone added a sliding catch on a sinking line drive off the bat of Black.
In the fourth, McCarthy picked up his third hit of the afternoon, a two-out solo home run, his sixth of the year to give the Wildcats an 8-4 lead. In the fifth, Luke Mailed connected for his ninth home run, a two-run shot that pushed Kentucky’s lead back up to six at 10-4.
It was a rare rough outing for Palazzone who fell to 8-3 after surrendering a career-high 11 runs on 15 hits in 5.1 innings before giving way to junior left-hander Craig Gullickson. Prior to Saturday, Palazzone had allowed only 13 earned runs combined in his previous eight SEC starts covering a span of 64 innings. Littrell improved to 6-5, going six innings and allowing four runs on seven hits with three walks and six strikeouts. Gullickson went the final 2.2 innings and allowed just a solo home run to McCarthy.
“We didn’t get out to a good start, and Kentucky really came out and didn’t let Michael breathe,” said Georgia coach David Perno. “The small picture is, we need to get some confidence and have some good things happen early, and the past few games, we haven’t been able to do that. Kentucky is playing well together and we’re not. We’ll have to find a way to get in the SEC Tournament .”
The series concludes Sunday at 1 p.m. The Bulldogs (25-26, 14-12 SEC) will start sophomore left-hander Blake Dieterich (1-3, 2.87 ERA) while the Wildcats counter with sophomore right-hander Jordan Cooper (3-1, 4.23 ERA). It will be the first start of the year for Dieterich who leads the team with a team-high 24 appearances. He started four games last year.