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The Call To The Bullpen, April 12th Edition


UK Athletics

UK Athletics

It was a hard-luck stretch for the BatCats the last seven days. Kentucky (22-11, 8-4) dropped three games against top 25 teams on the road last week. There are still several positive to draw on for the #10 BatCats after dropping their first SEC series of the year to Mississippi State. Before the team goes back on the road, let’s look back on the past week.

Recaps

Louisville 5 Kentucky 3- UK nearly completed a ninth-inning comeback against the Cards but fell just short in game one of the Battle of the Bluegrass. Louisville got to Zack Thompson in the first three innings and they never looked back. Three runs in the final frame were not enough as Kentucky dropped only their second midweek of the year.

Kentucky 5 Mississippi State 2 Friday was an incredible showing of plate discipline for UK. The BatCats walked nine times in the late-inning win. Zach Reks tripled home two runs and scored on a passed ball in the top of the ninth to give UK a three-run lead. A big performance by Logan Salow iced the fourth straight conference road win for UK.

Mississippi State 10 Kentucky 6 The start to Saturday’s game couldn’t have been better for UK. Tristan Pompey homered and Kole Cottam doubled home a run as UK led 3-0 through one. The Bulldogs owned the next eight frames. MSU scored six in the second and eventually led by as many as six runs against Zach Logue and UK. Cottam drove in four runs in a losing effort.

Mississippi State 10 Kentucky 6 Much like Saturday, UK led by three runs early on. Pompey collected four hits including two doubles in the first two innings. UK committed a couple of costly errors as they watched MSU score three runs in both the sixth and seventh innings. Luke Becker’s ninth-inning two-run homer wasn’t enough as UK dropped the series in Starkville.

Kentucky 8 Tennessee Martin 0- Zack Thompson tossed 6.2 shutout innings to lead UK to their 23rd win of the season. Evan White hit a three-run home run and Zach Reks added a solo shot at the plate. UK added two late runs on errors as the BatCats ran away with the midweek win.

Takeaways

Tristan Pompey can rake- If you have paid attention the last month, this isn’t really a surprise. But what Pompey did this weekend was incredible. The sophomore outfielder went 8/11 with two doubles, a home run, and four RBIs in Starkville. Pompey had exceptional plate discipline on Friday as he went 1/1 with three walks, a sac fly, and three RBIs. He is now second on the team in batting average and first in walks. The bat speed has picked up and he is squaring up more pitches than last year. Check it out here:

Kentucky lost once to Brent Rooker- It’s hard to say UK lost to Mississippi State when, in fact, they lost to Brent Rooker. The SEC Player of the Week hit three home runs on Saturday including a grand slam. Rooker is most likely going to run away with SEC Player of the Year this summer, as he should.

 

News and Notes

Logan Salow named Midseason Second Team All-American by Perfect Game- UK’s top reliever has six saves and sits atop the team with a 0.37 ERA in 16 appearances this season. It isn’t surprising that Salow is gaining some national attention after allowing only one run in his first 24.1 innings in 2017. First Team All-American T.J. Sikkema will pitch against UK this weekend.

Tristan Pompey to play in the Cape Cod League this summer- Pompey’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed this season. The Wareham Gateman picked Pompey for their roster in the most prestigious summer league in the country. Pompey looks like a completely different player in 2017 than in his freshman season.

Chandler Shepherd (UK Athletics)

Chandler Shepherd (UK Athletics)

Cats in the Pros

J.T. Riddle called up to the Marlins- As was predicted in Spring Training, Riddle is headed to Miami. Riddle made his debut Tuesday night in an 8-4 win over the Braves.

 

Chandler Shepherd named top AL East prospect- Former UK pitcher Chandler Shepherd was named the 10th best prospect in the AL East by Fangraphs this week. The Red Sox relief prospect is in Triple-A Pawtucket to start 2017.

Previewing Missouri

The Tigers jumped out to a hot start in 2017 but have since cooled off. After being ranked in the top 25 in March, Mizzou dropped seven in a row and now sit at 23-9 and 6-6 in the SEC. There isn’t a whole lot of offensive firepower coming out of Columbia this year as SEC pitching has cooled off their run-producing in the last two weeks.

The biggest threat to UK will come from the mound. Friday night starter Tanner Houck will hear his name called in the first round of the Draft in June. T.J. Sikkema is one of the top bullpen guys in the country along with Salow. After a rough weekend, UK has an opportunity to bounce back and build on their SEC East lead beginning on Friday. Saturday night’s game will be available on the SEC Network at 8 ET.

Listen to the New KSR Baseball Podcast

Austin Kearns is in the studio to talk about the Reds and tell some great baseball stories of his playing days. Next week, former #1 overall pick and SEC great Ben McDonald will come on to talk LSU Baseball.

Article written by Trey Huntsman

Keepin' fresh since '96. I couldn't play baseball, so I write about it to fill the void. Former Tampa Bay Rays Trackman and host of the KSR Baseball Podcast. Follow me on Twitter @TreyHuntsmanKSR.