LEXINGTON, Ky. — Georgia scored four runs in the ninth to rally past fourth-ranked Kentucky 5-3 to claim the opening game of an SEC series Friday at rainy Cliff Hagan Stadium. 

The Bulldogs (18-28, 6-16 SEC) took advantage of a pair of Kentucky miscues to stun the Wildcats, who were previously 28-0 when leading after eight innings. It was Georgia’s first late comeback of the year, as it was 0-24 when trailing after eight frames. With the loss, Kentucky dropped to 31-15 overall and 14-8 in the SEC.

Down 2-1 in the ninth and facing Kentucky closer Logan Salow, who carried a 0.46 ERA into the inning, sophomore LJ Talley reached with a leadoff single. After retiring the next two Bulldogs, freshman Tucker Maxwell smashed a double off the center-field wall as Talley raced to third. Freshman Austin Biggar followed with a grounder that took a strange hop to shortstop Connor Heady who couldn’t stop it from going in to left field as Talley and Maxwell scored for a 3-2 lead. Freshman Tucker Bradley kept the inning going with a base hit. Freshman Cam Shepherd lifted a fly ball to right field that Tristan Pompey had pop out of his glove, allowing Biggar and Bradley to score for a 5-2 advantage. Coming in Friday, Salow had allowed just seven runs all year (two earned) in 39.1 innings. In the bottom of the ninth, Georgia turned to sophomore Kevin Smith. 

The Wildcats pushed a run across on a bases-loaded walk and left the bases loaded as Smith notched his second career save, allowing a run on two hits with two walks and two strikeouts in an eventful final inning.

RELATED: D1Baseball.com Top 25 rankings

In the fifth, both teams pushed across a run to break a scoreless contest. Maxwell led off the frame with a base hit, took second on a sacrifice bunt by Biggar and eventually scored on a groundout by Shepherd. Then, Kentucky answered with a two-out RBI single by Evan White. Georgia senior left-hander Andrew Gist and Kentucky sophomore right-hander Sean Hjelle pitched 6.2 innings apiece, allowing one run, and did not factor in the decision. 

Bulldog freshman Zac Kristofak earned the win, pitching 1.1 innings to move his record to 3-1 while Salow fell to 2-4 but lowered his ERA to 0.41. The series continues Saturday with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m. ET.

Dawg tracks

  • Freshman Tucker Bradley extended his hitting streak to a career-high six games and finished the game 3-for-4 with a walk.
  • Freshman Cam Shepherd drove in the first run and collected a pair of walks.
  • Georgia posted its first late comeback of the year and is now 1-24 when trailing after eight innings.

Coach’s Corner: Head coach Scott Stricklin

"The kids kept fighting and Andrew Gist was outstanding. He competed and got us to the seventh, and then Zac Kristofak came in and did a good job. I told Kevin Smith in the sixth if we had a lead in the ninth that he was going to come in and get the save. He found a way to get it done. It was great to see Austin Biggar put a ball in play in the ninth. The ball took a right turn and got the go-ahead runs in. It was rainy and windy conditions, and I told our guys to run everything out and that’s how we scored four in the ninth. Our guys are growing up. They competed until the very end, and we pulled one out. I’m proud of the way they came through.”