Saturday was perhaps the most frustrating game of the 2018 season for Kentucky. Hunter Alexander’s eighth-inning grand slam gave Alabama a 4-2 win to clinch the series over #10 UK. The grand slam came after UK starting pitcher Zack Haake had walked the bases loaded and crossed over 110 pitches in the game.
Haake flirted with a no-hitter today thru 6.2 innings. The junior pitcher allowed his first hit in the seventh inning, but he continued on to complete seven shutout innings. The coaching staff sent Haake back out for the eighth inning despite throwing a career-high 98 pitches thru seven innings. Haake began to labor and walked the bases loaded in his eighth inning of work. The coaching staff stuck with Haake despite being over 110 pitches. Alexander made UK pay when he lifted a grand slam over the left-field wall.
Much like last night, Alabama got the big hits that UK could not. The Cats had runners in scoring position twice in the early innings before UA starter Jake Walters stranded them at second. The frustration would continue all day for UK. The Cats collected ten hits but scored only two runs while the Tide tallied four runs on two hits.
Haake gave the Cats the best start of his career despite the tough-luck loss. The JUCO transfer was nails in his first seven innings today. Haake struck out five and stranded five in his first seven innings of work. The only issue for Haake today was walking batters. Haake walked six batters in his first seven innings before walking the bases loaded in the eighth inning.
Even when Haake was dominating on the mound, the Cats’ offense was not giving him any run support. The only run of support that UK gave Haake came on a sixth-inning single by Kole Cottam to score Luke Heyer and give UK a 1-0 lead.
Haake continued to motor on in the sixth and seventh innings, but the eighth inning would be the bane of the Cats’ existence on Saturday. Alexander’s grand slam came with two outs in the inning after Haake walked the bases loaded.
The Cats had a great opportunity in the top of the ninth to take the lead back against Alabama’s bullpen. UK cut the Tide’s lead to two on a bases-loaded walk by T.J Collett with only one out. UA coach Brad Bohannon went to his closer Deacon Medders who slammed the door and stranded three runners to close out a 4-2 win for the Tide.
With the frustrating loss in Tuscaloosa, the Cats are now 2-6 in conference play with the only two wins coming last week against Auburn. Today should have been their game, but leaving Haake in for 115 pitches and a quiet day offensively doomed the Cats once again.