Information provided by LSU Sports
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Hitting the road for the second time in SEC play, the cold temps resulted in cold LSU bats as the visiting top-ranked Tigers managed just one run on six hits in falling to the No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats 3-1 Friday evening in the series opener at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington.
LSU (31-2, 5-2 Southeastern) dropped its second Friday game this year, as Kentucky (22-8, 2-5) starting pitcher Kelsey Nunley didn't allow LSU to capitalize on the chances it had early, as the team stranded five runners on base over the course of the contest and not getting that lone run until the sixth inning.
A.J. Andrews led LSU at the plate going 2-for-3, as the first four hitters in the order for the Tigers earned hits including Bailey Landry, Bianka Bell and Sahvanna Jaquish. Constance Quinn was the only other player to earn a hit for the team.
After a pretty impressive streak to open her career, starting pitcher Allie Walljasper (9-1) suffered her first loss of the season in allowing all three UK runs, two earned, on six hits with four strikeouts and a walk, although the LSU defense also committed two errors in the game which continued Wildcat at-bats.
Nunley nearly pitched the shutout, but still earned the win by getting LSU to ground out 10 times and needing just two strikeouts to hold the powerful Tiger offense at bay for much of the day. Griffin Joiner did much of the damage at the plate for the Wildcats, going 3-for-3 with two RBIs, including a home run to put the home side up three.
After two innings of scoreless ball, Quinn stepped up to the plate and ripped a leadoff single to open the top of the third. After a strikeout, Andrews legged out a single and the resulting error allowed Quinn to move all the way to third.
With a chance to strike, a fielder's choice grounder by Landry resulted in Quinn getting caught in a lengthy rundown before being forced out at the plate with Andrews and Landry now at second and third. Unfortunately, a grounder to short ended the inning with the game still scoreless.
Kentucky saw what LSU did and decided to string together a run themselves, as a single, error on a sac bunt and infield single loaded the bases for the Wildcats with no outs. The Tigers were unable to get out of the inning completely unscathed, as UK brought in two on three hits total in the frame to take a 2-0 lead before LSU locked down and closed the inning without any further runs scoring.
Kentucky came back in the bottom of the fifth and got an insurance run, with the homer coming from the bat of Joiner to make it 3-0 Wildcats.
After falling behind three and with an out in the sixth, Bell legged out an infield single to reach first. Jaquish lifted a single to deep center that allowed both to move to second and third to put runners in scoring position for the Tigers. Kellsi Kloss flew out to center as Bell slid home beating the throw to make it 3-1 for the only run of the frame for the team and final run of the game.
Game two of the series is set for an 11 a.m. first pitch in Lexington and will be televised on the SEC Network with Cara Capuano and Michelle Smith.
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