LEXINGTON, Ky. – Jake Wise hit his third home run of the season, while five Arkansas pitchers combined to hold Kentucky to one run as the No. 14 Razorbacks defeated the 23rd-ranked Wildcats, 2-1, in the series opener on Friday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Arkansas improves to 31-15 overall and 14-7 in SEC play, while Kentucky is now 26-18 overall and 9-13 in league play.
Due to inclement weather, Arkansas and Kentucky will play a doubleheader on Saturday. Game one will start at 11 a.m. (CT) with game two scheduled to start 45 minutes after the conclusion of game one. Arkansas will start junior right hander Ryne Stanek (5-2, 1.60) in the first game, while senior southpaw Randall Fant (4-1, 2.34) will start the night cap. Kentucky will start freshman righty Kyle Cody (3-2, 5.49) in game one and junior lefty Corey Littrell (5-3, 3.22) in game two. The series opener will be aired on a tape delayed basis by the Big Blue Sports Network at 6 p.m. (CT). Due to the doubleheader on Saturday, the series finale will not be televised on CST.
Wise had a pair of hits, including his third home run of the season, to lead the Razorbacks at the plate. Matt Vinson also added two hits and drove in a run. Jacob Mahan had a hit and a run scored, while Brett McAfee, Joe Serrano and Tyler Spoon each had one hit.
Arkansas starter Barrett Astin (4-2) earned his fourth win of the season. Astin gave up one run on five hits and struck out four in 5.2 innings.
Four Razorback relievers combined to throw 3.1 innings of shutout baseball. Colby Suggs picked up his ninth save of the season, striking out two in a scoreless ninth inning. Jalen Beeks, Trent Daniel and Brandon Moore also turned in a scoreless outing.
Kentucky starter A.J. Reed (2-6) was a tough-luck loser after allowing two runs on seven hits and striking out five in 7.1 innings.
The game was scoreless until the top of the fifth when the Razorbacks broke through with a pair of runs. Wise led off the top of the fifth with an opposite field home run over the wall in right field, his third round-tripper of the season. Arkansas added another run later in the inning as Vinson had a clutch two-out single to left, scoring Mahan from second base to make the score 2-0.
Kentucky answered with a run in the bottom of the sixth. The Wildcats loaded the bases with nobody out and plated a run on a fielder's choice RBI by Greg Fettes. Kentucky was only able to plate the one run in the inning as Astin and Daniel worked out of trouble in the inning.
The score stayed 2-1 for the rest of the game, but Kentucky was able to put the tying run on base in the bottom of the ninth. With one out, Kyle Barrett was hit by a pitch, but Suggs was able to get back-to-back strikeouts of Austin Cousino and Reed to end the game and give Arkansas a 2-1 win.
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