Kentucky proved on Tuesday that they weren’t going to let a four-game losing skid hang over their heads. After dropping last weekend’s series at Arkansas, the Cats (15-6) responded with a 20-4 win over Xavier on Tuesday. UK’s 20 runs were a season-high and the most since March 2014.
UK started the new week with their largest win of the season. The Cats scored eight runs in the fifth and six runs in the eighth inning today against Xavier.
But before the breakaway innings, it appeared that Xavier was going to give UK a run for their money. After Troy Squires drove in a run in the top of the first, the Musketeers responded with a run of their own against UK starter Daniel Harper. UK scored four unanswered runs in the third and fourth innings before the Musketeers scored three in the bottom of the fourth to stay within striking distance with the score at 5-4.
Xavier’s rally made Tuesday’s game look similar to UK’s home-opening loss to the Musketeers last month. But the Cats began to extend their lead and exact their revenge on Xavier in the top of the fifth. UK saw the first three batters of the inning receive free passes on a walk and a pair of HBPs. Ben Aklinski drove in two of his five runs on the day with an RBI single to put UK ahead 7-4. Collett would follow with a two-run single of his own as UK began to open the game up.
The next two at-bats drove the Musketeers out of their own ballpark. Luke Heyer hit a three-run home run and Kole Cottam hit his second solo shot of the day to give UK a 13-4 lead in the fifth inning.
The fifth inning was only a sign of things to come for the Cats’ offense. Just two innings later, the Cats hung six runs on the Musketeers. Led by home runs by Heyer and Luke Becker, UK reached the 20-run mark for the first time in four years. Tuesday’s run total was one more than the Cats’ scored overall in their four-game losing streak.
UK’s offense must have knocked Xavier’s lights out because the game was called following the eighth inning due to darkness. The offensive onslaught helped UK win their 15th game of the year and end a four-game losing skid before their series against Auburn. Now, here are some amazing notes from Kentucky’s win at Xavier this afternoon.
Kentucky scored six runs on seven walks against Xavier. How does a team score 20 runs in eight innings? Seven home runs obviously helped, but drawing eight walks and scoring runs on six of them was a gamechanger. Alex Rodriguez walked four times and scored three runs today. Rodriguez was the first UK player to walk four times since Andy Burns in 2009.
Luke Heyer and Ben Aklinski each drove in five runs in the win. The big blue bombers were out in full force today. Heyer and Aklinski went a combined 5/10 with three home runs and ten RBIs while Kole Cottam added three hits, including a pair of home runs.
The 20 runs were the most since 2014. With all the amazing offensive performances we’ve seen under Nick Mingione, today was the most prolific statistically. The Cats left only three men on base in route to their 15th win.