Late Lead Slips Away as #2 Vols Fall in Series Opener at #3 Kentucky
Courtesy / UT Athletics

Late Lead Slips Away as #2 Vols Fall in Series Opener at #3 Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. – No. 2/4 Tennessee was unable to hold on to a late lead and dropped its series opener at No. 3/3 Kentucky, 5-3, on Friday night in front of a record-setting crowd of 6,922 at Kentucky Proud Park.

A three-run seventh inning erased a two-run deficit for the Wildcats before they added an extra insurance run in the eighth to rally for their 15th SEC win of the year.

The Vols entered the bottom of the seventh inning with a 3-1 lead thanks to a Hunter Ensley two-run homer in the top of the second inning and a Christian Moore RBI single in the fifth, but a hit batter, a walk, two hits and a pair of errors in the inning allowed the Wildcats to plate three runs and take their first lead of the night.

Tennessee threatened in the top of the eighth after a single by Blake Burke and a hit batter put two on with one out, but a strikeout and a pop up in foul territory ended the threat.

A solo homer from Nolan McCarthy in the bottom of eighth extended UK’s lead to two heading into the ninth, setting the stage for closer Johnny Hummel to pick up his fifth save of the season despite giving up a leadoff walk to Dean Curley.

UT (31-7, 10-6 SEC) finished with just six hits on the night and no player had more than one.

Junior righthander AJ Causey was stuck with the loss despite an admirable extended relief outing, striking out seven and scattering five hits in 6.1 innings of work.

Kentucky leadoff man Ryan Waldschmidt led the team with a pair of hits and two RBIs, including a solo home run to get the Wildcats (32-5, 15-1 SEC) on the board in the third inning.

Reliever Travis Smith earned the win for UK after striking out three in two scoreless innings to improve to 3-2 on the year.

STAT OF THE GAME: With his single in the eighth inning, Burke extended his hit streak to 28 consecutive games and now stands alone as the program record holder, surpassing Condredge Holloway’s 27-game hit streak 49 years ago.

UP NEXT: Tennessee will look to even the series on Saturday afternoon when the two teams square off at 2 p.m. ET on SEC Network+ and the ESPN app.

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