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.