NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Kentucky jumped out to an early lead and held on to win the series opener 5-2 Friday night at Hawkins Field.
The Wildcats (36-7, 14-5) raced out to a four-run lead in the second inning, scoring two in the first and two more in the second. Kentucky leadoff hitter Austin Cousino singled to center and scored on a two-out single from Luke Maile. The Cats' two-out rally continued with Maile eventually scoring from third on a bases loaded balk by Vanderbilt starter T.J. Pecoraro. The right-hander avoided further damage with a strike out of J.T. Riddle to end the first. Pecoraro's struggles continued into the second inning when he issued a walk in front of Cousino, who blasted a two-run shot to right field. Two more walks sandwiched around a single ended Pecoraro's night. Freshman Brian Miller entered the game and kept the Commodores (19-23, 7-12) in the game with 3.2 innings of solid relief.
Vanderbilt battled back into the game in the third inning with a pair of runs. Back-to-back doubles from Connor Harrell and John Norwood scored the first run and Anthony Gomez's groundout plated the second. The Dores threatened again in the sixth loading the bases with two outs before Vince Conde flew out to end the inning. Harrell and Mike Yastrzemski led the Commodores with two hits each. Gomez's 13-game hitting streak came to an end with his 0-for-4 outing. Spencer Navin did not reach base for the first time in 21 games going 0-for-4. Cousino led the way for the Cats with three hits.
Kentucky starter Taylor Rogers (5-2) earned the win with 5.2 innings of work. The lefty allowed two runs on seven hits with four strikeouts. Pecoraro (0-2) was pinned with the loss, giving up four runs on five hits and a career-high four walks. Alex Phillips tossed 3.1 scoreless innings to nail down his fifth save of the season. Miller and Steven Rice combined for seven innings out of the VU bullpen with Rice working 3.1 scoreless innings.
The Commodores and Wildcats play tomorrow at 2 p.m. The Dores send freshman Tyler Beede (1-4) to the mound to face UK southpaw Jerad Grundy (4-1).