It was just one week ago that the BatCats dropped a weekend series to a lowly Alabama team. Fast forward to tonight, where #9 Kentucky is celebrating a series win over South Carolina and a midweek win over Louisville. UK improved to 22-10 overall and 5-7 in conference play after going 3-1 this week. Here is the full recap of everything that went down at the Cliff over the last week.
Kentucky 8, Louisville 5
Tuesday night was one of the sloppiest performances of the season for the Cats, but they somehow won. UK overcame five errors and a variety of other mistakes to knock off the Cards in front of a record-breaking crowd at the Cliff.
Tristan Pompey led the way with three RBIs and Alex Rodriguez reached bases four times in the win. Tuesday night was most likely the last time the two teams will meet at the Cliff, so it was nice to send the rivalry out on a good note before UK moves to their new stadium in the fall.
Kentucky 14, South Carolina 1
Friday was a near perfect performance from Sean Hjelle and company. Hjelle gave UK seven strong innings as his offense gave him plenty of run support in the series-opening win. Troy Squires launched his first career grand slam and Pompey added five RBIs. UK has outscored USC 33-1 on Friday nights over the last two seasons.
South Carolina 15, Kentucky 1
Seriously, what happened here? This game proved how weird baseball can be. After destroying South Carolina the night before, the Cats looked dead against USC pitcher Cody Morris. UK’s offense mustered only one run that came on a Trey Dawson solo home run. UK pitcher Zach Haake allowed ten runs in 4.2 innings before the Cats’ bullpen allowed five more runs in 4.1 innings. USC beat UK in every aspect of the game to bounce back and win game two.
Kentucky 10, South Carolina 5
The BatCats bounced back nicely following the blowout loss on Saturday. UK hit back-to-back home runs twice in the win, including in the first inning when Pompey and Squires both went yard. The second set of home runs came with UK up 5-3 in the sixth inning. Luke Heyer lifted a three-run home run before Luke Becker hit a solo shot to extend the Cats’ lead to six. The Gamecocks would add two runs in the seventh inning to make the game interesting, but junior closer Chris Machamer came on to slam the door on a 10-5 win.
Player of the Week: Tristan Pompey
No one on this team makes adjustments as well as Pompey. The junior outfielder continually finds ways to bounce back and improve after slumps. This week, the switch-hitting Pompey said that he was working on hitting from the left side and was seeing improvement. Pompey saw the fruits of his labor as he went 7/17 with one home run, ten RBIs, and one stolen base.
Nick Mingione said on Friday that Pompey was the “table-setter” in the series opener. He played that role all week. He was always there to spark a rally or drive in a run. If Pompey plays like this all season, look out.
Play of the Week: Trey Dawson
The series against South Carolina could have had a very different ending if it weren’t for a diving stop and throw by Dawson in game three. The fantastic play saved two runs and kept the Cats in front.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) April 8, 2018
Facts and Figures
- Troy Squires entered this season with one home run and 37 RBIs for his career. The senior catcher has four home runs and 36 RBIs in the first 32 games of 2018. Squires has set career highs in batting average, OBP, slugging percentage, and runs this season.
- If you subtract Justin Lewis’ start against Arkansas, his ERA is 3.43 for the season. Lewis allowed 11 runs against Arkansas in a game where he had to stick out on the mound to save the bullpen in a blowout loss. It just goes to prove that not all stats tell the complete truth. But for the time being, Lewis is stuck with a 5.24 ERA.
- The top two leaders in RBIs in the SEC are both Cats. Luke Heyer (40) and Troy Squires (36) are tops in the conference in RBIs 32 games in. If Jonathan India wasn’t doing what he is for Florida, Heyer would be the frontrunner for SEC Player of the Year.
The Week Ahead
The BatCats hit the road this week for four games outside the state of Kentucky. First, UK will travel to Cullowhee, North Carolina to take on the 3-27 Catamounts of Western Carolina. Why this is a road game, I don’t know.
After the stop in NC, the Cats will continue on to Athens for a three-game weekend series against the Dawgs. The upstart Bulldogs have taken the conference by storm in 2018. UGA was expecting to be cellar dweller this season, but they have risen way above those expectations and are ranked 17th nationally.