Bama Offense Struggles in 5-3 Loss to Kentucky


Saturday, April 12, 2003

Adam Pavkovich

» Box Score

TUSCALOOSA -- The University of Kentucky baseball team built a 4-0 lead through six innings and held on for a 5-3 win over No. 23 Alabama Crimson Tide Saturday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The win was just the second of the season for the Wildcats in Southeastern Conference play and snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide.

Mike Breyman's opposite field solo home run to left field in the top of the first inning looked like the only run UK would need as the Crimson Tide offense struggled against left-hander Heath Castle.

Alabama (24-11, 7-7 SEC) managed only four singles through six innings as UK built a four-run lead against starter Seth Johnson, who suffered his first loss of the 2003 season.

Kentucky (14-19, 2-11 SEC) scored twice in the fourth inning to take a 3-0 lead.  Caleb Stewart led off with a double, but had to leave the game after hobbling into second base with a pulled hamstring. 

Jake Kungl's one-out double to left field scored pinch runner David Waespe and Caleb Brock's two-out single to right brought home Kungl with the 3-0 lead.

UK added one more run before chasing Johnson in the sixth inning as Kungl again played a part in the rally.

The UK third baseman doubled down the right field line to open the inning and moved to third base on Michael Bertram's ground out to first baseman Beau Hearod.  Brock the delivered his second RBI single of the game to chase the UA starter.

Johnson (5-1) allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings and suffered his first loss of the season.  He added six strikeouts and two walks.

Despite only four singles through six innings, Alabama left eight base runners in falling behind 4-0.

The Crimson Tide got within one run in the seventh inning, but could get no closer as its three-game winning streak came to an end.

Back-up catcher Charlie Lyons dumped a single into right field to lead off the seventh inning and Travis Garner walked to put runners at first and second with no outs.

Allen Rice flied out to center field on the first pitch, moving Lyons to third base, and Beau Hearod lined out Kungl at third for the second out, just missing an extra base hit. 

Al Hecklinski followed with a three-run home run off the scoreboard in left field to pull UA to within 4-3 and chase UK lefty Heath Castle.  It was his seventh home run of the season.

Castle (3-3) allowed three runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings for the win. He added two strikeouts and walked five batters.

A trio of UK pitchers -- James Rodriguez, Kalen Gibson and Seth Stanley -- made sure that Alabama got no closer than 4-3.

Rodriguez did not retire either of the two batters he faced after Hecklinski's home run in the seventh inning, but Gibson came on a got Gabe Scott to ground into an inning-ending force play.

After allowing a leadoff bunt single to Grant Redding in the eighth, Gibson struck out Lyons, Garner and Rice in succession to end the inning.

UK sealed the game with a run on four hits in the ninth inning before turning the game over to Seth Stanley, who was scheduled to start on the mound Sunday.

UK reserve catcher Aaron Edwards bases loaded single off Brian Reed in the ninth inning pushed UK's lead to 5-3.  Reed replaced Jeffrey Norris, who allowed one run and five hits in three innings of relief work.

Stanley pitched around two base hits in the ninth inning for his first save of the year.  With the tying runs aboard, Stanley got Meiners on an infield pop up and pinch-hitter Zac Welch to fly out for the final two outs.

The WIldcats out hit the Crimson Tide 14-9, but UA 13 men on base in the two-run loss.  Alabama stranded at least one base runner in eight of the nine innings, including two runners five times.

Kungl led the Bat Cats with three hits and two runs scored, while Casey Gilvin, Breyman, and Brock all had two hits each for UK.

Hecklinski and Pavkovich had two hits each for Alabama.

The series concludes with a 2 p.m. (CT) game Sunday afternoon from the Joe.  Sophomore lefty Brent Carter (4-4, 4.29 ERA) will take the mound for Alabama, while Kentucky has changed its starter after using Stanley in the pen on Saturday and will now pitch Mark Galvan (2-2, 2.70 ERA).