Dogs, Cats split baseball doubleheader

ATHENS, Ga. -- No. 18 Georgia split its Saturday baseball doubleheader with No. 7 Kentucky -- winning 7-6 in the opener before falling 9-8 in Game 2 -- to set up Sunday’s rubber match in the key SEC series.

After Georgia blew a 6-0 lead in the top of the seventh of the opener, Brett DeLoach (3-for-4, two runs, RBI) belted the two-out, go-ahead double in the bottom of the seventh to stake Blake Dieterich to a lead he would protect over the final two scoreless innings.

Georgia staked Game 1 starter Alex Wood to a 6-0 lead before he and reliever Bryan Benzor (4-1) combined to lose the lead. The Wildcats scored four runs in the seventh inning off Wood -- three on a homer by freshman slugger Austin Cousino -- and two more off Benzor to tie the score at 6 by the end of the inning.

Wood held the Wildcats to three hits and no runs through the first six innings.

Georgia’s Hunter Cole (2-for-4, two runs, RBI), Conor Welton (2-for-3, run, RBI) and Peter Verdin (1-for-3, three RBIs) also sparked the offense in the opener as Georgia (18-10, 4-4 SEC) handed Kentucky (26-2, 6-2) only its second loss of the season.

In Game 2, the Bulldogs led 6-5 at the end of six innings, but Kentucky claimed the lead for good with a three-run seventh against Bulldogs relievers Earl Daniels and Luke Crumley (1-2).

Wildcats outfielder Cameron Flynn (3-for-5, two runs, two RBIs) provided the inning’s most damaging blow with a two-run homer off Crumley.

Down 9-8 in the bottom of the eighth with Conor Welton standing on third base with the potential tying run, Peter Verdin popped out to third to end the threat. The Bulldogs went quietly in the ninth.

DeLoach (3-for-5, one run, two RBIs) and Welton (3-for-4, two RBIs) had big outings in Game 2, as well, with Welton driving in Colby May with an RBI double in the eighth as the Bulldogs attempted to rally.

Verdin (2-for-5, one run) and Brandon Stephens (2-for-4, two RBIs) also had multi-hit games for Georgia, while Flynn, Michael Williams (3-for-5, four RBIs), J.T. Riddle (2-for-4, two runs, RBI), and A.J. Reed (2-for-5, two runs, RBI) led the Wildcats.

The two teams played a doubleheader Saturday after Friday’s opener was rained out.

They will conclude the series Sunday with a 2 p.m. game at Foley Field.