Kentucky’s record-breaking season came to an end today. Brendan McKay and Louisville were too much for the Cats as they fell 6-2 in today’s Super Regional. Evan White collected two hits and Sean Hjelle allowed four runs in 5.1 innings as the starter.
Drew Ellis killed UK with a three-run home run off Zach Logue in game one. He went back to the well for two more bombs today against Sean Hjelle. The first of the day came in the second inning when Hjelle left a pitch up in the zone that Ellis sent over the wall in left-center to give Louisville a 1-0 lead.
Hjelle was able to settle down after the early mistake. He stranded two runners in the third and seemed to settle in during the fourth inning. The only issue for UK was that Brendan McKay was settling in as well. Kentucky’s gameplan of not being aggressive and taking pitches didn’t have much of an effect early, but it did keep McKay from going as deep as he could have gone. McKay had to throw a lot of pitches early, but UK could not get anything going offensively.
Louisville began to add on in the fifth and sixth innings. Logan Taylor and Colby Fitch both reached with one out in the fifth before Devin Mann flew out to score Taylor from third. Hjelle pitched into the sixth and hit a wall. Ellis got all over a pitch and homered for the second time off Hjelle to send UK’s starter to the dugout. Zach Pop entered with one out and a man on first. Josh Stowers greeted him with a RBI triple down the left field line as the Cards increased their lead to three. Pop loaded the bases and was immediately removed for Logan Salow. Thanks to some slick fielding by Evan White, UK got out of the jam with a double play.
Trailing by three, UK looked to be rallying in the sixth. White and Reks singled with one out and moved up on a balk by McKay. The National Player of the Year settled in and struck out two to end the threat.
Kentucky’s approach at the plate began to pay off in the bottom of the seventh. With McKay over 95 pitches, the Cats put runners at the corners with no outs. Tristan Pompey delivered a RBI single to center to chase McKay with two outs in the seventh.
Cats get another!!
– NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 10, 2017
Sam Bordner entered and walked White to start his outing. Bordner settled in and struck out Zach Reks to leave the bases loaded. It was yet another opportunity to get a big inning that UK could not capitalize on.
The impact of leaving the bases loaded was felt immediately. Salow allowed a two-strike, two-out double by Taylor to score Tyler Fitzgerald from first. One more run came around on a single by Mann that dropped in no man’s land to give Louisville a 6-2 lead.
Justin Lewis entered for Salow in the ninth. Lewis was supposed to start tomorrow if necessary, but Nick Mingione went to him with a runner on in the ninth. Lewis allowed a single but that was all as he got UK to the bottom of the ninth.
UK was unable to get another rally in the bottom of the ninth and dropped the second game of the Super Regional. Kentucky finished 43-23 on the season but finished two wins from Omaha.