By Trey Huntsman on ©April 18th, 2018 @ 2:00pm
The BatCats will be without their number two starter for the sixth straight weekend. Nick Mingione said on his radio show that sophomore Zack Thompson will be out with a flexor strain in his throwing arm against #1 Florida. The projected number two overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft has not pitched since March 10th against Texas Tech.
Mingione said that Thompson’s status is still being decided on a week-to-week basis. According to Mingione’s radio show on Monday, Thompson is progressing, but they will keep him out this week.
The sooner Thompson comes back, the better. Since Thompson went out, UK is 0-5 in the second game of weekend series with a run differential of -31. Junior Zach Haake has stepped in for Thompson and seen his fair share of struggles on Saturdays. Thompson exited early against Texas Tech after his velocity had dipped and he allowed three early runs. The game Thompson exited helped to raise his ERA above six, but that stat does not tell the whole story. The injury came after Thompson had started looking like himself the previous week against Sam Houston State when he pitched six shutout innings in the Shriners Classic.
It goes without saying that UK needs Thompson back. Thompson hit his stride at this point last season before giving the Cats good starts in the Lexington Regional and in midweek games. There is still a good chance that we see Thompson on the mound before the end of the year, but let’s hope its sooner rather than later.
By Drew Franklin on ©April 17th, 2018 @ 9:30pm
Louisville avenged its April 3 loss at Kentucky with a win in the rematch in Louisville on Tuesday.
Things got off to a nice start for the Cats when Trey Dawson’s second home run of the season gave his team a 1-0 lead in the top of the third. But the Cards would score eight unanswered before UK crossed home plate again as UofL went on to win, 8-2.
With Louisville’s win, the two teams split the regular season series for a second straight year.
By Trey Huntsman on ©April 17th, 2018 @ 2:00pm
The BatCats travel to Louisville this evening to take on the Cardinals in game two of the regular series season. #6 Kentucky took game one earlier this month and can sweep the season series with a win tonight. First pitch is at 6 ET, so here are some things to watch for in tonight’s Battle of the Bluegrass.
Kentucky can sweep the season series for the first time since 2014.
The last four years have seen Louisville dominate the rivalry. Since the Cats swept the season series in 2014, Louisville has won eight of the last ten matchups, including two straight in last year’s Super Regional. The BatCats can flip the script with a win tonight night. Last year’s team showed improvement against the national superpower Louisville by taking one in the season series. If the BatCats can win at Jim Patterson Stadium tonight, it would prove that they are truly the best team in the state.
Will This Game Be Less Sloppy?
Good grief I hope so. The Cats took game one earlier this month by a score of 8-5, but it was ugly. UK committed five errors in a sloppy win over the Cards. Louisville will be ready to roll at home tonight and the Cats need to be more focused than they were in the game one. The BatCats are much better than this year’s Louisville team and a clean game by UK should get them the win.
Can Daniel Harper Get The Job Done?
UK will need a big performance by the freshman projected starter on Tuesday. In game one, Harper showed the ability to handle the Cardinals’ lineup. The key on Tuesday for Harper will be to command his pitches. The freshman does not need to let the opposing crowd get into his head.
Has Louisville Improved?
Baseball America still has Louisville as a two seed, but I don’t see it. The Cardinals won their first ACC series in over a month this past weekend over lowly Virginia Tech. A lot of their struggles this season stem from losing many of their contributors from last year’s team, including player of the year Brendan McKay. The Cards are very young and still finding their identity after last year’s success. They showed in game one against UK that they had a long way to go. We will find out tonight if they have made a step forward in the last month.
Where Can You Watch?
Tonight’s game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra, so it should be available on Watch ESPN. If that does not work, you can tune in on 630 WLAP.
After making a trip to Athens, Georgia, Trey Huntsman shares a story about one wild fan in the stands, prompting Coach Keith Madison to tell a tale from an SEC Tournament that was hosted in Athens. They break down the series win at Georgia, preview the mid-week match-up with Louisville, and…
— Ramsey and Machamer are giving Nick Mingione more confidence in his bullpen.
— A tip of the cap to Justin Lewis.
— How to prepare for Louisville when No. 1 Florida comes to Lexington this weekend.
— That time Coach Madison got tossed in an 11-2 game.
— Memory of a bitter game at Georgia and how it led to an encounter with Tubby Smith when he was coach at Georgia
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to Kentucky Sports Radio on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
After big performances vs. Western Carolina and No. 18 Georgia, Kentucky sophomore closer Chris Machamer was named SEC Pitcher of the Week this afternoon.
Machamer did not allow a run in 5.1 innings in wins over the Catamounts and the Bulldogs, yielding just three hits, striking out seven and issuing an intentional walk. In Kentucky’s last 10 games, the right hander is 1-0 with six saves in seven appearances and riding a 13.1 scoreless inning streak, with three hits allowed and 14 strikeouts.
Tomorrow, the Bat Cats will travel to Louisville for a midweek rivalry showdown before hosting No. 1 Florida this weekend. Prepare for that exciting slate by watching this clip of Machamer’s big save on Friday night:
By Trey Huntsman on ©April 14th, 2018 @ 11:06pm
It was a wild day of baseball in Athens. The BatCats (25-11, 7-8) split today’s doubleheader and won the series over #18 Georgia. Kentucky dropped the first game of the day 9-7 but bounced back to win a thrilling 1-0 game on Saturday night. We will have more from this wild day, but for now, enjoy the recaps of both games.
Georgia 9 Kentucky 7
One inning killed the Cats in game one. Georgia’s seven-run third inning proved to be too big of a hole to climb out of for Kentucky as they dropped game one by a score of 9-7. The BatCats outscored UGA 6-1 in the final six innings, but the huge third inning proved to be their downfall.
In the third inning, Georgia collected seven runs on eight hits and one error. The Bulldogs saw eight different hitters reach base before UK ever got one out.
Zach Haake started in game two of the series in place of Zack Thompson for the fourth straight week. Haake looked good in the first two innings, but he would not make it through the third. Georgia chased Haake when Keegan McGovern hit a three home run to give the Dogs a 4-1 lead in the third. The bleeding would not stop as UGA hung four more runs on UK reliever Brad Schaenzer to take an 8-1 lead after three innings.
If Friday night proved anything, it’s that you can never count out the UK offense. The BatCats slowly scratched away at the lead through the middle innings but struggled to get the big hit with men on. UK left a combined five men on in the fourth and fifth innings but did manage to score a pair of runs to get within striking distance.
Trailing 9-3 late, the Cats got a late rally going thanks to their powerful bats. Kole Cottam hit a two-run home run and T.J Collett followed with a solo home run as UK trimmed the lead to three after seven innings.
UK was able to overcome the three-run deficit last night, but the seven-run lead was just too much on Saturday. The Cats would add another run in the eighth but Georgia was able to wiggle out of the inning with the lead intact. Georgia would close out game one by a score 0f 9-7 in Athens.
Kentucky 1 Georgia 0
This series was like a three-act play. Each game brought a different level of suspense to Foley Field in Athens. In game three, we saw a brilliant pitcher’s duel that ended with Kentucky winning 1-0 over Georgia thanks to a go-ahead infield single by Kole Cottam in the eighth inning.
Before the single by Cottam, neither team had any success with runners on base. Entering the eighth inning, the teams had combined to hit 5/28 with runners on base. But the story of this game is not what the two teams couldn’t do, it was what their pitchers could do. UK’s Justin Lewis and UGA’s C.J Smith were both electric in tonight’s game.
The two starting pitchers carried their teams through the first six innings. Neither starting pitcher allowed a run in game two of the doubleheader. Lewis was able to wiggle out of jam after jam in six innings of work. The junior righty stranded seven runners, including two in the third inning as struck out two batters to end the frame.
In front of dozens of friends and family, the Georgia-native Lewis had his best stuff tonight for the Cats. Unfortunately for UK, so did Smith. The freshman pitcher went a career-high six innings in a no-decision. Smith struck out four and allowed four hits in his first career start.
Lewis and Smith would both exit after six innings. For Lewis, his exit came with some extra drama. With two outs in the inning, L.J Talley shot a single with Cam Shepherd on first. Ben Aklinski bobbled the hit in centerfield and led Shepherd to believe he could score. Aklinski was able to get control of the ball and hit the cutoff man Trey Dawson perfectly. Dawson threw a seed home to throw out Shepherd and keep the game at a scoreless tie through six innings.
After a pair of thrillers, it was only right that the finale would come down to the last two innings. It would not be until the eighth inning that we would see a runner cross home plate. With two outs in the eighth, Kole Cottam chopped an infield single to third to score Tristan Pompey and give UK a 1-0 lead.
Justin Lewis’ performance would not go to waste tonight. The UK bullpen threw three scoreless innings in relief, including Chris Machamer coming on to throw 1.1 innings and get the save. The win locked up the second consecutive series win for the Cats in the SEC.
In a lineup that includes the likes of Tristan Pompey, Luke Heyer, and Kole Cottam, it is easy to look past the guys at the bottom of the order. Last night, there was no way to miss Trey Dawson’s contribution for Kentucky. Dawson delivered the go-ahead RBI double in the 11th inning last night in the Cats’ 6-4 win over Georgia. The game-winning hit was proof the Dawson has developed into a quality nine-hole hitter in this dangerous UK lineup.
“I choked up a little on the plate and really was just trying to put the ball in play, just make them make a play and happened to put a good swing on it,” Dawson said on his game-winning hit.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) April 14, 2018
Dawson’s heroic hit lifted his season batting average to .277. If you had looked at Dawson’s start to the 2018 season, this recent streak of solid hitting performances would come as a surprise. But to UK, it was the plan all along for Dawson to develop into a weapon at the bottom of the order. The UK coaching staff wanted Dawson to work two quality at-bats (meaning a hit, walk, HBP, sacrifice, etc.) every game. Dawson took that challenge and has made major strides in his development at the plate.
“These coaches and players are just awesome, they push us to be the best every day and this is a great program we got,” Dawson said.
Over the last five games, Dawson is 6/15 at the plate with two doubles and five RBIs. In that span, Dawson has collected his first multi-RBI game and hit his first career home run. It has been an impressive turnaround for a guy that started the season 1/14 at the plate.
Dawson is known as the defensive specialist on this year’s UK team. But his .319 batting average against SEC teams has shown the coaching staff and fanbase that he can contribute offensively against the best of the best in college baseball. If Dawson continues to hit at a high level in conference play, this lineup has a chance to do something special.
Dawson and the BatCats will be back in action today at 3 ET in a doubleheader against Georgia. The second game will follow at around 7 ET on SEC Network.
Never, ever count out this Kentucky team. The #9 BatCats rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the top of the ninth before Trey Dawson drove in two runs in the top of the 11th to boost UK to a 6-4 win over #18 Georgia. The come from behind win improved UK’s record to 24-10 overall and 6-7 in conference play.
For a while, it appeared that the Dogs had stumped the UK offense. The BatCats hit into three double plays in the late innings as they could not get a crooked number on the scoreboard against UGA’s pitching staff. The first eight innings were equally frustrating for UK starting pitcher Sean Hjelle. UGA hit a pair of two-run home runs off Hjelle, but the junior righty still looked the part of an SEC Pitcher of the Year throughout the game. Hjelle pitched eight innings, allowing four runs on six hits while striking out three.
UK had minimal support for Hjelle against starting pitcher Chase Adkins and Georgia. Luke Heyer’s RBI single in the fourth was the only run-producing play the Cats’ offense would muster in the support of their starting pitcher.
There is something about this team that has to make every game a thriller. Trailing by three, the BatCats rallied in the ninth inning. Trailing 4-1, the BatCats were down to their final strike several times but continually battled back. T.J Collett put the game in reach when he ripped an RBI double to right. After a walk by Ryan Johnson, Ben Aklinski singled home two runs to tie the game at four heading into extra innings.
“It wasn’t just Ben. Ben was the one that got up and knocked them in, but for those guys to be on and grind out at-bats,” Nick Mingione said. “This team wanted to win, man. That’s the thing I’ve said all year long with this team is when we have the desire to win that dominates like that, we’re as good as any team.”
It was in extra innings that the merit of this team really showed. With Chris Machamer shutting down the once powerful Dawgs’ lineup, the UK offense meticulously attacked UGA’s bullpen. Zeke Lewis and Ryan Johnson both walked to put two men on for Trey Dawson with two outs. The junior shortstop battled with two strikes and was rewarded with a good pitch to hit late in the at-bat. Dawson served a two-run double against Georgia’s Tony Lacey to give the Cats a 6-4 lead heading into the bottom of the 11th.
“I choked up a little on the plate and really was just trying to put the ball in play and make them make a play and happened to put a good swing on it,” Dawson said on his game-winning hit.
Following the rally in the top of the inning, Machamer jogged back out for his third inning in relief. The sophomore slammed the door with a strikeout to close out a 6-4 thriller in Athens.
Kentucky and Georgia will play a doubleheader tomorrow starting at 3 ET. The first game will be available on SECN+ with game two following at 7 ET on SEC Network.
The 28th episode of the KSR Baseball Podcast almost didn’t happen, thanks to a fickle bathroom door. Trey Huntsman spent an inning locked inside of a Cliff Hagan Stadium bathroom during the UofL game. He talked about his daring escape and everything else in the UK Baseball world with Coach Keith Madison. Highlights:
— How Sean Hjelle continues to improve his game.
— Zach Haake’s Saturday struggles.
— Kentucky’s one missing piece that could return to the team soon.
— Which former/current player would you want on your side during a bench-clearing brawl?
— Trey hits the road the Georgia, and Coach Madison’s surprise SEC teams.
— Leaving a legacy with Coach’s mound visit and memory from The Cliff.
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to Kentucky Sports Radio on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
By Drew Franklin on ©April 13th, 2018 @ 3:31pm
Wait just a minute…
Hamidou Diallo may not be ready to announce his decision after all.
Adam Zagoria spoke to Diallo’s mentor, Rob Diaz, who said reports of Diallo’s departure from UK are inaccurate.
“No the family and I will be meeting with him next week to make a decision on what he feels is best for him,” Diaz told Zagoria. “Anything else out as of now is just a rumor.’
Jon Rothstein of CBSSports.com cited multiple sources in his report of Diallo entering the draft and hiring an agent, so we have a classic showdown of contrasting messages here. Whatever the case may be, it’ll likely be a little longer before he hear anything from Diallo himself.
After a mid-afternoon scare, it’s time to exhale. Western Carolina (3-28) gave #9 Kentucky (23-10) all they wanted, but their upset bid fell short as the Cats won 7-5.
The Cats jumped out to a 4-0 lead before WCU battled back to tie the game in the sixth inning. After the Catamounts tied the game, Luke Becker put UK back in front for good with a solo home run in the seventh.
The go-ahead home run came after several dramatic innings. UK watched as their early 4-0 lead shrunk throughout the middle innings. Daniel Harper allowed two runs to score in the fourth inning before Brad Schaenzer allowed another run in the fifth as the Catamounts trimmed the lead to one.
The Cats got back on the board on an RBI groundout from Troy Squires, but WCU was still in attack mode. Caleb Robinson welcomed UK reliever Jimmy Ramsey with a solo home run in the sixth inning. The bleeding would not stop as the Catamounts tied the game on a Will Prater single later in the inning.
For UK, flashes of their early season loss to Northern Kentucky had to be going through their minds. The only difference between that game and tonight was the UK offense bounced to take the lead. Shortly after the Catamounts tied the game, Becker launched his fifth home run of the season to give UK a 6-5 lead. The Cats would score a second run in the seventh inning on a run-scoring double play that put them in front 7-5.
After some rough performances out of the pen in the middle innings, Carson Coleman and Chris Machamer shut down the final 3.2 innings with no issues. Coleman struck out four in 2.2 scoreless innings before handing the ball to Machamer for the ninth inning. Machamer allowed one man to reach in the ninth but stranded him at second as he picked up his fifth save of the season.
The upset was avoided today thanks to a loud performance by Alex Rodriguez. The JUCO transfer went 4-5 with three doubles and two RBIs to lead the charge in Tuesday’s win. Tuesday was Rodriguez’s first multi-hit and multi-RBI game of his UK career. Not bad for a dude that had five career hits entering the game.
Are you kidding me???!!@arodszn smokes a double to the wall in LCF, his third of the game. He’s 4-for-4 with three doubles, two runs, two RBI and a run-saving defensive play.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) April 11, 2018
The 7-5 win was another close call for the Cats in a midweek game. But in the RPI rankings, a win is a win. Kentucky will be back in action this weekend at Georgia for a three-game series starting at 7 ET on Friday.
The SEC has been completely out of whack this season. There is only one team in the SEC that has won every conference series in 2018. With all the insanity through the first four weeks of conference play, ranking the top teams in the conference has never been harder, but let’s give it a shot. Here are the first KSR SEC Power Rankings of the season.
1. Florida (28-6, 9-3)
Last Week: (3-1) Florida Gulf Coast: 8-4 W, Tennessee: 22-6 W, 6-4 W, 4-6 L
To this point, no one can hang with the Gators enough to win a series. The Gators are in the top spot in the SEC and in the nation. UF is still the only team in the conference to win every one of their SEC series in 2018. The Gators have Florida State in a midweek before they take on Mizzou this weekend.
2. Arkansas (24-9, 8-4)
Last week: (5-0) UL Monroe: 10-9 W, 4-0 W, Auburn: 2-1 W, 13-2 W, 5-4 W
Kentucky saw three weeks ago how powerful the Hogs are offensively. But it was their pitching that carried them to a series win over Auburn last weekend. UA ace Blaine Knight has now outdueled Sean Hjelle, Brady Singer, Casey Mize, and Ryan Rolison on Friday nights. If you didn’t know, that is FOUR projected top 20 picks. Arkansas has South Carolina this weekend, so look for them to rise in the SEC Standings.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) April 9, 2018
3. Vanderbilt (19-13, 7-5)
Last week: (2-2) MTSU: 3-4 L, Georgia: 2-3 L, 5-3 W, 8-3 W
Tim Corbin’s squad bounced back from a tough weekend in Gainesville by taking two of three against Georgia. Vandy is ranked this high because of talent and potential of their lineup. They are only getting better and they have proven they can beat good teams.
4. Georgia (23-9, 8-4)
Last week: (2-2) Georgia Tech: 4-0 W Vanderbilt: 3-2 W, 3-5 L, 3-8 L
Okay, we are four weeks into SEC play and the Dawgs are still hanging around. I’m not ready to say that they are for real yet, but they have already outplayed their expectations. UGA will play host to UK this weekend after dropping their first SEC series of the season last week.
5. Kentucky (22-10, 5-7)
Last week: (3-1) Louisville: 8-5 W, South Carolina: 14-1 W, 1-15 L, 10-5 W
The BatCats are on the right track after a meltdown of a weekend in Tuscaloosa two weeks ago. UK took two of three against USC and beat Louisville. It’s crazy to think that a week ago the fanbase was in a frenzy wondering if this team had the juice. A series win this weekend over Georgia would prove it even further.
6. Ole Miss (22-10, 7-5)
Last week: (2-2) Memphis: 12-0 W, Mississippi State 3-13 L, 6-1 W, 5-7 L
The Rebels dropped a rough series to their in-state rivals, but are still near the top in the conference standings. The series loss last weekend was their first of the season. This team is flying under the radar in a very important series for Mike Bianco and the Rebels.
7. Texas A&M (23-9, 5-7)
Last week: (2-1) LSU: 1-4 L, 9-2 W, 3-1 W
Much like football, the Aggies have reached the midpoint of their season and have no idea what direction they are headed in. A&M picked up their first SEC series win of the year over LSU last weekend, so they might have some momentum heading into their series against Bama.
8. LSU (20-13, 6-6)
Last week: (2-2) Nicholls State: 10-1 W, Texas A&M: 4-1 W, 2-9 L, 1-3 L
The middle of the pack in the SEC continues to get muddier as we approach the midpoint of the season. LSU has mystified all of us in the college baseball world. Will Mainieri direct this team in the right direction before it’s too late?
9. Missouri (23-9, 6-6)
Last week: (2-2) SIU Edwardsville: 12-1 W, Alabama: 1-2 L, 1-0 W, 1-5 L
Hmmm…Missouri? This sneaky group of guys has a pair of series wins against SEC West teams this season. Bryce Montes De Oca leads a very talented pitching staff that will pull some upsets throughout the rest of the SEC season. Could this team steal enough series in the SEC to host a regional?
10. Alabama (20-13, 5-7)
Last week: (2-2) Jacksonville State: 0-4 L, Missouri: 2-1 w, 0-1 L, 5-1 W
This week will tell me if Alabama is indeed a middle of the pack team or a pretender. The Tide knocked off Missouri last week and Kentucky the week before. But Bama was also swept by Tennessee and has losses to Jacksonville State and UAB. They take on A&M this weekend in a series that will carry a lot of weight in the West.
11. Auburn (23-10, 4-8)
Last week: (1-3) Alabama A&M: 14-1 W, Arkansas: 1-2 L, 2-13 L, 4-5 L
Casey Mize is the best college pitcher I have watched in a long time. But if you subtract him from this team, the Tigers are not a very good squad. Someone else is going to have to step up in order for this team to win some games.
12. Tennessee (19-14, 5-7)
Last week: (2-2) Belmont: 9-2 W, Florida: 6-22 L, 4-6 L, 6-4 W
Eh, they beat Florida once. That keeps their heads above the water for a little bit longer.
13. South Carolina (18-14, 5-7)
Last week: (1-3) North Carolina: 3-11 L, Kentucky: 1-14 L, 15-1 W, 5-10 L
It’s Mark Kingston’s first year, so you have to give him the benefit of the doubt. The Gamecocks are fading and fading fast in SEC play. They did not look the part of a team that will win more than 15 games in conference play this season.
14. Mississippi State (17-16, 4-8)
Last week: (3-1) Southern: 5-0 W, Ole Miss: 13-3 W, 1-6 L, 7-5 W
I refuse to let one series win convince me that Mississippi State is not at the bottom of the conference right now. I’m not a believer in either team from Mississippi this year, specifically the Dogs. Jake Mangum continues to shine brightly for a surprisingly disappointing MSU squad.
BALLGAME! The #RallyDawgs strike & the Diamond Dawgs take the series vs. No. 3 Ole Miss!
— MSU Baseball ? (@HailStateBB) April 8, 2018
By Trey Huntsman on ©April 10th, 2018 @ 5:18pm
We are only four years removed from AJ Reed winning the Golden Spikes Award for college baseball’s best player. Today, two current BatCats were placed on the watch list for the prestigious award. Senior third baseman Luke Heyer and junior outfielder Tristan Pompey were among the 40 players named to the midseason list by USA Baseball.
Heyer has burst onto the scene and taken the SEC by storm. After coming off the bench in 2017, Heyer has started in 30 games this season as a senior. Heyer leads the SEC with 13 home runs and 40 RBIs. The former All-State JUCO star leads UK in batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage.
Pompey is the top position player prospect in the SEC. The reigning SEC Player of the Week, Pompey is now hitting .358 as a junior with five home runs and 28 RBIs. Pompey missed some time with an ankle injury last month, but he has come back with vigor in the last two weeks. The Toronto-native collected seven hits and drove in ten runs on his way to winning the SEC POW. Pompey will gain a lot of traction for the award as he continues to bounce back from an injury and makes more adjustments from the left side of the plate.
The Golden Spikes Award will be announced on June 28th in Los Angeles. The next update will be on May 21 when the semifinalists are announced.
By Trey Huntsman on ©April 09th, 2018 @ 10:00pm
It was just one week ago that the BatCats dropped a weekend series to a lowly Alabama team. Fast forward to tonight, where #9 Kentucky is celebrating a series win over South Carolina and a midweek win over Louisville. UK improved to 22-10 overall and 5-7 in conference play after going 3-1 this week. Here is the full recap of everything that went down at the Cliff over the last week.
Kentucky 8, Louisville 5
Tuesday night was one of the sloppiest performances of the season for the Cats, but they somehow won. UK overcame five errors and a variety of other mistakes to knock off the Cards in front of a record-breaking crowd at the Cliff.
Tristan Pompey led the way with three RBIs and Alex Rodriguez reached bases four times in the win. Tuesday night was most likely the last time the two teams will meet at the Cliff, so it was nice to send the rivalry out on a good note before UK moves to their new stadium in the fall.
Kentucky 14, South Carolina 1
Friday was a near perfect performance from Sean Hjelle and company. Hjelle gave UK seven strong innings as his offense gave him plenty of run support in the series-opening win. Troy Squires launched his first career grand slam and Pompey added five RBIs. UK has outscored USC 33-1 on Friday nights over the last two seasons.
South Carolina 15, Kentucky 1
Seriously, what happened here? This game proved how weird baseball can be. After destroying South Carolina the night before, the Cats looked dead against USC pitcher Cody Morris. UK’s offense mustered only one run that came on a Trey Dawson solo home run. UK pitcher Zach Haake allowed ten runs in 4.2 innings before the Cats’ bullpen allowed five more runs in 4.1 innings. USC beat UK in every aspect of the game to bounce back and win game two.
Kentucky 10, South Carolina 5
The BatCats bounced back nicely following the blowout loss on Saturday. UK hit back-to-back home runs twice in the win, including in the first inning when Pompey and Squires both went yard. The second set of home runs came with UK up 5-3 in the sixth inning. Luke Heyer lifted a three-run home run before Luke Becker hit a solo shot to extend the Cats’ lead to six. The Gamecocks would add two runs in the seventh inning to make the game interesting, but junior closer Chris Machamer came on to slam the door on a 10-5 win.
Player of the Week: Tristan Pompey
No one on this team makes adjustments as well as Pompey. The junior outfielder continually finds ways to bounce back and improve after slumps. This week, the switch-hitting Pompey said that he was working on hitting from the left side and was seeing improvement. Pompey saw the fruits of his labor as he went 7/17 with one home run, ten RBIs, and one stolen base.
Nick Mingione said on Friday that Pompey was the “table-setter” in the series opener. He played that role all week. He was always there to spark a rally or drive in a run. If Pompey plays like this all season, look out.
Play of the Week: Trey Dawson
The series against South Carolina could have had a very different ending if it weren’t for a diving stop and throw by Dawson in game three. The fantastic play saved two runs and kept the Cats in front.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) April 8, 2018
Facts and Figures
- Troy Squires entered this season with one home run and 37 RBIs for his career. The senior catcher has four home runs and 36 RBIs in the first 32 games of 2018. Squires has set career highs in batting average, OBP, slugging percentage, and runs this season.
- If you subtract Justin Lewis’ start against Arkansas, his ERA is 3.43 for the season. Lewis allowed 11 runs against Arkansas in a game where he had to stick out on the mound to save the bullpen in a blowout loss. It just goes to prove that not all stats tell the complete truth. But for the time being, Lewis is stuck with a 5.24 ERA.
- The top two leaders in RBIs in the SEC are both Cats. Luke Heyer (40) and Troy Squires (36) are tops in the conference in RBIs 32 games in. If Jonathan India wasn’t doing what he is for Florida, Heyer would be the frontrunner for SEC Player of the Year.
The Week Ahead
The BatCats hit the road this week for four games outside the state of Kentucky. First, UK will travel to Cullowhee, North Carolina to take on the 3-27 Catamounts of Western Carolina. Why this is a road game, I don’t know.
After the stop in NC, the Cats will continue on to Athens for a three-game weekend series against the Dawgs. The upstart Bulldogs have taken the conference by storm in 2018. UGA was expecting to be cellar dweller this season, but they have risen way above those expectations and are ranked 17th nationally.
By Brett Bibbins on ©April 08th, 2018 @ 9:00pm
Just a few hours ago, our own Trey Huntsman gave you a full breakdown of today’s series clinching win over South Carolina for the Kentucky BatCats. If you missed his write up, check it out here. On top of his analysis, KY Wildcats TV continued to be one of the best in the business at pumping out highlights for all of Kentucky’s sports.
Check out their full highlight video below.
Just when you thought they were finished, KY Wildcats TV gave us a little more, with a theatrical version of the highlights as well.
ICYMI: @UKBaseball claimed the series over South Carolina this afternoon thanks to several back to back home runs.
Here's another look at today's action! pic.twitter.com/ujtUJMvupd
— KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) April 8, 2018
The Cats continue their season on Wednesday, traveling to Cullowhee, North Carolina to take on Western Carolina University, before heading down to Athens to take on the Georgia Bulldogs in a three game series this weekend.