Kentucky strikes back to even series with Arkansas

Arkansas pitching didn’t have an answer for Kentucky’s bats Saturday. Three big innings at the plate — against three different pitchers — were enough to lead the eighth-ranked Wildcats past the second-ranked Razorbacks, 11-3, at Kentucky Pride Park.

Kentucky (34-10 overall, 17-6 conference) evened the three-game at a game apiece series and moved back into a first-place tie with Arkansas (40-8, 17-6 conference) atop the SEC standings.

Hudson White put Arkansas on the board in the second inning with a no-doubt two-run homer to deep left off Kentucky starter Dominic Niman. It was White’s first home run since the Razorbacks’ season-opener against James Madison.

Ross Lovich followed with a sharp single to right center, then advanced from first to third on two wild pitches. That got Kentucky’s bullpen up and going early, and it looked as if the Diamond Hogs’ bats were picking up right where they’d left off following Friday’s series-opening 10-3 victory.

Things didn’t work out that way.

Lovich was left stranded at third, and Arkansas starter Brady Tygart struggled on the bump right from the start. Tygart allowed five baserunners his first time through the order, and when Émilien Pitre batted for the second time, he lifted a deep fly to the warning track in left that Lovich appeared to misplay. The ball dropped for a two-run double to tie the game.

Devin Burkes followed with a go-ahead double down the left field line to give the Wildcats a 3-2 lead as seven of the first 12 Kentucky batters reached base.

Kentucky never trailed afterwards, adding four runs in the fourth inning off Tygart and reliever Gage Wood. Pitre had another two-run double, this time to right field off Wood, and Burkes grounded out to plate another run for a 6-2 lead. Nick Lopez followed with a run-scoring single to end the inning with Kentucky up 7-2.

The Wildcats struck for four more in the eighth inning off Koty Frank thanks to a three-run bases-clearing double from Lopez and an RBI single from Mitchell Daly to cap their scoring.

Arkansas got a run in the ninth inning on an RBI groundout from Peyton Stovall against Ryan Hagenow.

Kentucky out-hit Arkansas, 11-8. Niman (8-3) picked up his eighth win of the year with Tygart (4-2) suffering his second loss. Stovall (2-for-5) was the only player to pick up two hits for Arkansas, which left nine on base.

Pitre (2-for-3) had four RBIs, and Burkes (2-4), Lopez (2-5) and Daly (2-4) also had two hits apiece for Kentucky.

The rubber match of the series is scheduled for noon CDT Sunday. The game can be seen on SEC Network+.

Story originally appeared on Razorbacks Wire