LSU’s struggles in the first game of three-game Southeastern Conference series continued in Friday’s opener at Kentucky’s John Cropp Stadium.
The No. 17 Tigers twice led but watched their lead evaporate each time with a defensive lapse and home run ball playing key roles in the No. 14 Wildcats’ 7-5 victory.
LSU followed a recurring theme in SEC play where the Tigers have dropped the first game of a league series for the third time in their last four outings. The Tigers’ only win in that stretch was April with a 1-0 win in eight innings against Ole Miss en route to taking the series.
Despite the threat of rain, the two teams are scheduled to resume their series Saturday with game two scheduled for 4 p.m. on ESPN2.
LSU (26-15, 8-8 in SEC) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second and regained a 5-2 margin in the fifth.
Catcher Morgan Cummins hit her third homer of the season in the top of the second inning. Designated player Shelbi Sunseri drew the first of her three walks and was replaced by pinch-runner Savannah Stewart and Cummins deposited a full count pitch over the fence in left field.
Kentucky (32-10, 7-9) tied it at 2-all in the third inning with a two-out rally scoring runs on an error and a wild pitch.
LSU, which outhit Kentucky 7-6, regained the lead with a three-run homer by Georgia Clark in the top of the fifth inning.
Ciarra Briggs (3-4) had an infield single, and Taylor Pleasants walked when Clark made it 5-2 with her seventh homer of the season was just out of the reach of the left fielder.
Kentucky rallied to take the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning, scoring five times on three hits and took advantage of a key error.
The Wildcats, utilizing an infield error, loaded the bases when Renee Abernathy delivered a grand slam off LSU’s losing pitcher Ali Kilponen. She also allowed a two-out solo homer to Mallory Peyton before giving way to Sunseri who pitched 1.1 innings of scoreless relief with a strikeout.
Kilponen (11-6) allowed seven runs (three earned) on six hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
LSU brought the tying run to the plate on two occasions in the seventh when Sunseri walked with one out, but Cummins’ bloop hit was caught in shallow center field and Taylor Tidwell lined out to shortstop to end the game.