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Kentucky Hands Tennessee First Series Loss Of Season

LEXINGTON, Ky — It took nearly 20 hours, but Kentucky took game two of the weekend series, 5-2, over No. 1 Tennessee to hand the Vols their first series loss of the season.

Here’s everything to know about the delayed fill game two of the weekend series.

Kentucky Carries Thursday’s Momentum To Friday

Tennessee had to stew on its fifth loss of the season an hour and 43 minutes longer than anticipated due to a pregame lightning delay.

However, the Vols didn’t come out the gates firing as Kentucky continued its momentum from Thursday night’s series opener.

Tennessee’s offense started slow with Kentucky starter Austin Strickland striking out four Vols his first time through the lineup. The Vols didn’t get a runner in-scoring position the first three innings, extending that streak to 11 innings going back to the series opener.

Blade Tidwell wasn’t bad for Tennessee making his third start of conference play, but the Wildcats jumped on his mistakes.

Ryan Ritter took a fastball that missed the heart of the plate deep to left field for a solo home run in the second inning, and after John Thrasher and Alonzo Rubalcaba made hard contact on base hits, a sac fly gave Kentucky a 3-0 lead through three innings.

That was all Tony Vitello needed to see, handing the ball to Chase Dollander to open the fourth inning.

Another Kentucky Reliever Dominates

The story of the series opener was the outings of Kentucky relievers Daniel Harper and Tyler Guilfoil. The duo dominated Tennessee, holding the Vols scoreless for the final 8.2 innings of the 13 inning game. Tennessee recorded just one hit off of Harper and Guilfoil in the loss.

It was Zack Lee who gave Tennessee fits on Friday night. Lee entered in the fourth inning with Kentucky leading, 3-2, with a runner on second with one-out.

Christian Moore’s weakly hit infield single gave Tennessee its first baserunner off Lee. It would take them a long time to get another.

The junior right-handed pitcher fanned Evan Russell to get a huge second out with the tying run on third. It was the first of nine consecutive outs recorded by the Kentucky reliever before Lee began to lose his command as the rain increased at Kentucky Proud Park.

Tennessee couldn’t capitalize on Lee’s command issues as the reliever recorded a strong 3.1 innings pitched.

Welcome Back Chase Dollander

Chase Dollander made his official return from injury in Tuesday’s midweek win over Alabama A&M. However, the sophomore threw just nine pitches and faced three batters on a below average SWAC team.

Dollander made his second appearance since being struck with a line drive in Friday night’s loss.

The right-handed pitcher was the guy we’ve seen for much of the season, allowing just two hits and one run — which was unearned — in the loss.

Dollander’s fastball sat 96-98 mph and the sophomore’s command was strong, especially given the poor weather conditions.

The Georgia Southern transfer struck out five in four innings pitched. However, one was an Oraj Anu double following a Jorel Ortega fielding error.

With Tidwell’s second consecutive rocky start and Dollander looking back to full speed it will be interesting to see how Tony Vitello handles his weekend rotation the rest of the way.

Weather Delay

Lightning delayed the start of the game, but it was rain that postponed the final two innings from Friday to Saturday.

The turf field at Kentucky Proud Park allowed the teams to play through a consistent rain for most of the final three innings played. However, the rain increased and a pair of Kentucky batters threw bats while swinging.

Eventually, with one out in the top of the eighth inning the umps sent the game to a rain delay and just over 40 minutes later the game was postponed to Saturday.

Kentucky took a, 4-2, lead into Saturday and nothing changed for Tennessee’s bats in the final two innings as the Wildcats earned a drama free win.

Final Stats

Up Next

Tennessee and Kentucky conclude their weekend series in 40 minutes. RHP Drew Beam (8-0, 2.14 ERA) will get the ball for the Vols and RHP Sean Harney (5-3, 2.82 ERA) will get the start for the Wildcats.

The game will be streamed on SEC Network+.

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