LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Auburn plated six runs in the first three innings and got a strong start from ace senior righty Dillon Ortman to post an 8-1 win over Kentucky to even the series, on a perfect Saturday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (29-20, 11-15 SEC) fell behind early, as the Tigers plated single runs in the first and second inning and then exploded for four runs in the third to take a 6-0 lead. Auburn thwarted UK’s momentum in the second inning, throwing out a run at the plate attempting to score on a sacrifice fly. After putting up the four-run frame in the third, Ortman settled in to post his ninth win of the year, equaling UK two-way star A.J. Reed for the SEC lead in wins.
UK starter Chandler Shepherd (5-3) had the shortest start of his decorated three-year career, Shepherd worked over two innings, allowing eight hits and five runs – three earned – not issuing a walk and striking out one. Ryne Combs came on with runners on the corners and no outs in the third, walking the bases loaded on four pitches. Combs worked four innings, allowing three hits and three runs – one earned – walking three and striking out two. Sophomore Taylor Martin took over to start the seventh, working two shutout innings, striking out two. Freshman Zack Brown got the final three outs in the ninth, striking out one.
Ortman (9-3) handcuffed the potent bats of the Wildcats in his 13th start of the year. He tossed seven innings, allowing only one run on seven hits, walking four and striking out five. Jay Wade and Trey Cochran-Gill combined to work the final two innings.
The Wildcats were led at the plate by a two-double game from freshman Storm Wilson, who extended his hitting streak to a team-high nine games. UK also got a double from Ka’ai Tom, who later singled, and hits from Max Kuhn, Thomas Bernal, JaVon Shelby and Micheal Thomas, with Reed and Matt Reida each drawing walks.
Kentucky will conclude its series with Auburn and its home schedule on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be televised live by Fox Sports South and CWKYT, with Dick Gabriel, Doug Flynn and Brian Milam calling the action. The finale will also be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
Auburn (27-24, 10-16 SEC) struck first in the top of the first inning, as Anfernie Grier led off with a two-strike single through the left side. Damon Haecker then singled on a well-executed hit-and-run, with Grier taking third on a fly ball from Blake Austin. Daniel Robert then singled to left-centerfield, scoring Grier for an early lead.
The Tigers plated a two-out run in the top of the second inning, taking a 2-0 lead. Keegan Thompson singled to right-centerfield with two outs, scoring on Dan Glevenyak’s third triple of the year, off the left-centerfield wall.
Auburn added to its lead in the top of the third inning, as Haecker singled to centerfield, motoring to third on Austin’s 10th double of the year, pulled down the leftfield line. Robert then smashed a single to rightfield, scoring Haecker. UK turned to Combs in relief, with runners on the corners and no outs. Combs immediately walked the bases loaded on four pitches, before getting two quick outs to come close to escaping the jam. Auburn then hit a grounder up the middle, with UK playing a shift, and the ball was bobbled for a two-out, run-scoring error. Glevenyak took advantage with a two-out RBI single, scoring two and giving Auburn a 6-0 lead after three.
Kentucky got a run back in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Tom led off with a double to right-centerfield, scoring on Wilson’s double off the leftfield wall.
The Tigers got the run back in the top of the fifth inning. After a fly out, Damek Tomscha drew a four-pitch walk, taking second on a sacrifice bunt. Jordan Ebert then chopped a grounder up the middle, with Reida fielding it on the grass in shallow centerfield, spinning to fire the ball to the plate, trying to get Tomscha. Tomscha’s slide dislodged the ball from Thomas on the collision.
Auburn added a run in the sixth inning, as Grier doubled down the leftfield line with one out, scoring after Blake Logan hit a grounder through the legs of a UK infielder with two outs.