The top-ranked Virginia baseball team opened the 2014 season with an 8-3 loss to Kentucky Friday at the Hughes Bros. Challenge in Wilmington, N.C.
The Cavaliers struck first in the second inning on an RBI groundout by Kenny Towns that scored Derek Fisher. The score remained 1-0 until the fourth, when the Wildcats turned four hits into four runs, to take a 4-1 lead.
Kentucky scored again in the fifth, ending the day for UVa starter Brandon Waddell. The sophomore finished with seven strikeouts and gave up six earned runs in 4.1 innings. Freshman Connor Jones made his pitching debut for Virginia, replacing Waddell on the mound. Jones gave up three hits and one earned run, adding four strikeouts in 2.2 innings.
The Wildcats extended their lead to 8-1 heading into the ninth, before the Cavaliers scored two in the top of the inning to cut the lead to 8-3. With two on and two out in the inning, Brandon Downes hit an RBI double to left to score Mike Papi and Joe McCarthy. Zach Strecker took the mound for the Wildcats and struck out Derek Fisher to end the game.
UVa falls to 0-1 on the season, and will face VMI at noon on Saturday as the Hughes Bros. Challenge continues in Wilmington.