Kentucky used 18 hits and a complete game victory from Justin Lewis to pick up a 10-2 win over #9 LSU on Sunday. The BatCats (28-13, 12-6) got big days from Riley Mahan, Kole Cottam, and Zach Reks at the plate to lead them to a series win. UK now sits atop the SEC East standings and will most likely rise close to a top five spot in next week’s poll.
UK jumped all over LSU for the third time this weekend. The first seven batters of the game reached base on LSU starter Eric Walker as UK scored four runs in the bottom of the first. UK got RBI doubles from Luke Becker and Zach Reks and Marcus Carson added a RBI groundout.
The first inning was a sign of things to come for UK’s offense. Kole Cottam and Riley Mahan hit back-to-back homers in the bottom of the third to chase Walker with one out in the inning. Both home runs were absolute moonshots that carried 400 feet off the bat.
– John Burns (@JohnBurns_13) April 23, 2017
Kentucky really stepped on LSU’s throats with another three-spot in the bottom of the fourth. Cottam drove in his third run of the game before Mahan and Becker singled in runs to put UK in double digits in runs.
Justin Lewis quietly dominated for UK on the bump. The sophomore struck out six and allowed two runs (one earned) in a complete game and moved to 6-2 on the season with a 2.82 ERA. Lewis had his plus changeup working today and it led him posting one of his best starts of the season.
LSU’s only firepower came in the second and sixth innings. Josh Smith drove in an unearned run with a single in the second and Nick Coomes added a solo shot to cut UK’s lead to 10-2 in the sixth. Outside of those two instances, Lewis was untouchable. Lewis only hit 90 on the radar gun once but pitched his best game of the season against a top ten opponent.
UK got several runners in scoring position in the final three innings but LSU’s bullpen wiggled out of a couple tough jams. The late effort by the pitching staff was all for not as Lewis slammed the door with a 1-2-3 ninth inning to clinch a series win.
Riley Mahan might be the SEC Player of the Week- After going 2/4 against Louisville, Mahan went 9/12 this weekend with five RBIs, a home run, two doubles, two walks, and a HBP. Mahan is really developing into one of the best offensive second basemen in the country. He now leads the team with seven home runs and 40 RBIs.
UK’s approach looked completely different than Friday- After leaving 14 men on base on Friday, UK capitalized on big opportunities today. The BatCats still left 11 on base, but when you have 18 hits and six walks, not everyone is going to come around. Four different players had three or more hits on Sunday, including Reks collecting four hits in the win. Evan White now has hits in 17 of his last 18 games and Tristan Pompey is riding a 12-game hitting streak and has had a hit in 28 of the last 30 games.
Kentucky is in line for a national seed- After taking Tuesday’s game against Louisville and winning this weekend’s series over LSU, it appears UK is headed towards a top eight seed in June’s NCAA Tournament. The Cats now hold a two-game lead over Florida in the SEC East and trail only Mississippi State in the overall standings.