(from UK Athletics/photo Sarah Caputi)
Alonzo Rubalcaba set the tone with a first inning grand slam and Kentucky secured its second top 15 series win of the season with a 18-5 thrashing over No. 14 Georgia on Sunday afternoon at Kentucky Proud Park.
It’s the most runs scored by UK against a Southeastern Conference team since the Wildcats scored 19 at South Carolina in April 2017.
Georgia (18-6, 3-3) came into the series having held opponents to two or fewer runs in 11 of 21 games but yielded double digits in each of the final two games as the UK (17-8, 2-4) offense broke out with a season-high 18 in runs and hits (20).
The series victory helped the Wildcats recover from the series sweep last weekend at Arkansas.
“I thought we started playing better Sunday at Arkansas,” said head coach Nick Mingione. “You could see us coming. We played good on Tuesday (in a win over Morehead State), played hard on Friday and it carried over today. We had to have this series.”
Junior 3rd-baseman Chase Estep hit his first SEC home run of the season against the Bulldogs. “That was huge,” he said. “We knew were good, even after Arkansas. We were in those games until the end. There was a little gap we needed to close. We had to re-set. It’s good to get a series win, going into Ole Miss next week.”
Starter Tyler Bosma pitched a career-high six scoreless innings, ending three of them with a ground ball double play. “Being able to locate my fastball and slider,” Bosma said, “that was key. It was a tight zone today but (the Bulldogs) were willing to swing at pitches out of the zone so that helped me out.”
The Cats finished off a 3-1 week and now have series wins over No. 8 TCU and No. 14 Georgia.
Rubalcaba had career-highs with three hits and four RBI, including unloading on a 1-0 pitch over the bullpen in left field for the Cats’ fourth grand slam of the season. Five different Cats – Rubalcaba, Chase Estep, Jase Felker, Adam Fogel and Hunter Jump – had three hits or more in the game.
“I still believe in this team,” Mingione said, “and how competitive they are. I didn’t like the way we acted at Arkansas. We had a good long meeting Monday. To our team’s credit, you could see it. We were different. I love the way we responded.“
On a down note, UK confirmed that junior RHP Cole Stupp has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with an injury to his pitching arm. Stupp has been Kentucky’s Friday night starter. “It hurts you,” Mingione said. “You hurt for him. He’s done everything right. You hurt for him. He’s a warrior. He’ll come back.”
- Kentucky has 1,999 all-time victories, one shy of 2,000.
- UK has scored in 268 of 271 games in Mingione’s tenure.
- Mingione now has 160 wins, fifth on UK’s all-time list. He needs five wins to move into fourth.
- UK is 31-of-34 on stole base attempts this season.
- The UK pitchers have struck out 267 in 25 games.
- Junior INF Chase Estep has reached base safely in 24 of 25 games this season.
- He has eight home runs this season.
- He has 12 multi-hit games this season and 23 in his career.
- He went 3-for-5 with five runs and two RBI.
- Senior OF Adam Fogel went 3-for-6 with two runs and two RBI.
- He set a new career-high for hits.
- He has four multi-hit games this season.
- Senior OF Hunter Jump went 3-for-5 with two runs and one RBI.
- He has eight multi-hit games this season.
- Senior C Alonzo Rubalcaba has reached base safely in 18 straight games, a career-long.
- He set new single-game career highs with four RBI and three hits.
- He has eight multi-RBI games this season.
- He has four multi-hit games this season and seven in his career.
- Junior INF Jase Felker had his second multi-hit game of the season.
- He had a career-best five hits.
- It is the first five-hit game by a Cat since Riley Mahan against LSU in April 2017.
- Senior INF Jacob Plastiak had his ninth multi-hit game of the season.
- Junior INF Ryan Ritter had four RBI, his fifth multi-RBI game of the season.
Kentucky hosts Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday. First pitch at 6:30 p.m. ET on the SECN+. The radio call will be on the UK Sports Network.