It may seem confusing as to how Kentucky needed just seven hits to blow by Texas Tech on Friday night. The Cats (13-2) used their relentless approach at the plate to scrap out ten runs on seven hits, eight walks, and five hit-by-pitches against a pitching staff that had not allowed double-figure runs in a game this season. The Cats showed in Friday’s win over Texas Tech (14-1) that they can grind out wins by working long counts and having a good feel for the strike zone.
“I thought tonight was another really good example of us managing the strike zone. When we do that offensively, that puts a lot of pressure on our opponents,” Nick Mingione said. “We laid off the marginal pitches and they threw some really good pitches and some really good pitchers and our ability to command the strike zone really helped.”
Friday’s game against Texas Tech was a perfect example of the relentlessness of UK lineup. Against Texas Tech ace Davis Martin and a very talented Red Raider bullpen, the Cats reached base 20 times in 44 plate appearances. Every player in Kentucky’s lineup reached base at least once, with five players reaching more than once. Texas Tech is a team that stays in the strike zone, but UK was able to foul off tough pitches to work counts. By doing this, UK worked eight walks and was hit by five pitches in Friday’s win.
All those free passes led to big innings. On a windy day at the Cliff, UK hung crooked numbers in three separate innings against the third-ranked Raiders.
The incessant nature of UK’s offense was nothing new. UK has seen a steady rise in production at the plate throughout the first month of the season. The Cats have scored ten or more runs in seven of their last ten games after only doing hitting double digits once in their first five times out.
“We’ve constantly been learning. Even after the loss the other night we learned from that, both individually and as a team,” junior Kole Cottam said. “We’re just constantly trying to get better.”
It is a scary thought that this offense could actually be improved, but it is a real possibility now that Tristan Pompey is back from injury. Pompey’s return solidifies a lineup that has nine guys who can produce at the plate in some fashion.
Whether it was hitting the ball out of the park or simply working long at-bats, UK got solid offensive production from top to bottom last night. The team’s ability to command the strike zone and wait for their pitch in every at-bat helped them pick up their best win of the season against #3 Texas Tech on Friday night.
The Cats and their ruthless offensive attack will be back in action today against the Red Raiders at Cliff Hagan Stadium. First pitch is at 1 ET with Zack Thompson taking the mound for the Cats. The game will be broadcast on SECN+ and will pair nicely on a split screen with Kentucky Basketball’s game against Alabama.