LEXINGTON, Ky. – Elliott Curtis continued his torrid stretch with two more hits and two runs driven in but an early deficit proved too much for Kentucky to overcome in a 12-4 loss to No. 2 Vanderbilt on Friday night at Kentucky Proud Park.
The Wildcats (26-28, 7-22 SEC) enter the final game of the regular season tied with Alabama and South Carolina for the final berth in next week’s Southeastern Conference Tournament. If the three clubs remain tied after Saturday’s games the Cats would head to Hoover. If UK finishes tied with South Carolina only the Gamecocks would earn the berth based on their series win over Cats last weekend. A tie with Alabama would send the Cats to Hoover.
On a perfect central Kentucky evening the fourth-largest crowd in UK history – 4,491 – watched as the Commodores’ relentless offense scored six runs in the third inning to take control. Still, the Cats battled back to slice the deficit to four with a three-run fifth inning highlighted by Curtis’ two-run double to the wall in right-centerfield.
Curtis, a junior infielder from Waterloo, Ontario, continued to flash his hitting prowess over the second half of the season, logging a pair of hits for the fourth straight game to extend his career-long hitting streak to five games. He also has reached base safely in nine straight games and now is hitting a team-high .328 in conference games with 11 RBI.
On Saturday, UK will honor seniors Marshall Gei, Ryan Johnson, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Shinn before the 2 p.m. ET first pitch as they play their final home game.
Top 2nd – Stephen Scott homered to CF. Vandy 1, UK 0.
Bottom 2nd – Jaren Shelby doubled to LF, advanced to third on Cam Hill’s SAC bunt and scored on Dalton Reed’s SAC fly to CF. UK 1, Vandy 1.
Top 3rd – Austin Martin walked to open the inning, stole second and advanced to third on throwing error by the catcher. JJ Bleday hit a two-run homer to RF. Ethan Paul walked and scored on Philip Clarke’s double to RF. Scott singled, Harrison Ray doubled and Ty Duvall walked to load the bases. Julian Infante hit a bases-clearing double to LF.Vandy 7, UK 1.
Top 5th – Scott walked. Ray reached on a fielding error, Scott to third. Infante grounded out, scoring Scott. Vandy 8, UK 1.
Bottom 5th – Zeke Lewis doubled to RCF, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch. Ryan Johnson and Ryan Shinn delivered two-out singles and scored on Elliott Curtis’ double to RCF. Vandy 8, UK 4.
Top 6th – Martin walked, stole second, advanced to third on throwing error and scored on Paul’s SAC fly. Vandy 9, UK 4.
Top 8th – Duvall singled, Bleday was hit by a pitch and Paul homered to LF. Vandy 12, UK 4.
· The attendance of 4,491 is the fourth-largest crowd in UK history.
· Kentucky has scored in 118 consecutive games and 194 of the past 195 dating to the 2016 season. The lone shutout came in a seven-inning game. The current streak is the second-longest in school history.
· Sophomore C/INF Coltyn Kessler was hit by a pitch to reach base safely for the 13th consecutive game.
· Senior OF Ryan Shinn was hit by a pitch for the 17th time this season, moving him into sole possession of 10th on the UK single-season list.
· Junior INF Elliott Curtis singled in the first to extend his career-long hit streak to five games.
o Curtis has reached base safely in nine straight games.
o He had a two-run double to give him three multi-RBI games and 11 multi-hit games this season.
o Curtis now has four straight multi-hit games.
· Junior OF Jaren Shelby went 2-for-4 with a double and a run.
o It was Shelby’s 13th multi-hit game of the season and second straight.
o He now has 10 doubles on the season.
o He is hitting .500 (5-for-10) in three games this week.
Kentucky and Vanderbilt will close out the regular season at Kentucky Proud Park on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is at 2 p.m. ET on the SEC Network Plus. Darren Headrick will have the radio call on the UK Sports Network.