Kentucky beats No. 1 LSU to claim first series win against top-ranked team
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky pitcher Meagan Prince entered the game in the third inning with two runners on base and one out and tossed 4.1 brilliant relief innings, while Nikki Sagermann recorded two hits in the game, including her fifth home run of the season, as the No. 15 Wildcats defeated No. 1 LSU on Saturday, 5-2, to claim the Southeastern Conference series at John Cropp Stadium.
The win for Kentucky (23-8, 3-5 SEC) clinches the Wildcat's first SEC series win of the season. UK took down LSU (31-3, 5-3 SEC) on Friday night 3-1 to claim the program's first win against a No. 1-ranked team. The series win is Kentucky's first against a top-five ranked SEC team since taking two of three against No. 2 Florida in 2012. Kentucky has now won the series over LSU two of the last three times the two teams have met in a regular-season set. Prior to Lawson, UK had only won 11 SEC series in program history, while head coach Rachel Lawson has won 32 in her eight years at the helm of the program.
So far this season, UK has defeated five ranked foes, including four ranked inside the top 10 at the time UK defeated them. Saturday's win was the 60th against a ranked foe under Lawson, including 33 over top-10 teams and 18 against top-five teams. The Wildcats are 7-0 at John Cropp Stadium, which ties the best home start in program history. Kentucky also started 7-0 at home last season and in 2006. UK is 41-17 in three years at John Cropp Stadium.
Erin Rethlake started the game for Kentucky and breezed through two innings with only one hit allowed before LSU posted four one-out hits in the third inning to grab its first lead of the series. That prompted a pitching change as Lawson turned to Prince, who walked the first batter she faced but got a strikeout and groundout to end the threat in the third. Prince went on to shut down LSU in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and recorded the first two outs of the seventh inning before allowing a walk. Lawson removed Prince for Kelsey Nunley, who struck out Dylan Supak on three pitches to seal the win.
Prince took home the win in the game, tossing 4.1 innings with five strikeouts and only two hits allowed. The win moves her to 9-4 on the season with a 3.18 ERA. Nunley picked up her third save of the season and sixth of her career, tying her for first all-time in program history in saves.
Offensively, Sagermann was responsible for igniting two of UK's scoring innings, starting with a solo home run in the second inning to put UK up 1-0. She started UK's game-winning rally in the sixth inning with a single up the middle, followed by singles from Brooklin Hinz and Kara Howard to load the bases with no outs. Ansley Smith grounded a ball to the LSU shortstop, who tried to throw out Sagermann at home, but the Tigers catcher dropped the ball for an error, allowing the eventual game-winning run to score. An RBI hit-by-pitch from Christian Stokes and a ground-rule sacrifice fly -- with the LSU third baseman making a great diving catch on a pop out, but fell into the UK dugout for a dead ball catch-and-carry, advancing each baserunner up a bag -- gave UK a 5-2 lead it wouldn't relinquish.
Griffin Joiner went 1-for-4 in the game to extend her hitting streak to a season-best six games, while Stokes also extended her hitting streak to six games -- a career best for her -- going 1-for-3 with an RBI. Stokes has reached base safely in 12 consecutive games and has a hit in 17 of her last 22 games.