Eight months ago, it appeared that newly-drafted Justin Lewis had pitched in his last game for Kentucky. Flash forward to today, where Lewis’ dominance on the mound helped UK win 10-3 over USC Upstate to sweep Saturday’s doubleheader. The redshirt junior pitcher went six shutout innings, allowing just two hits and no walks while striking out nine in a blowout win for the Cats.
As Lewis paced UK’s effort on the mound, the Wildcats’ offense got rolling early. After needing six unanswered runs to overcome a five-run deficit in game one, UK flipped the script in game two. The Cats’ offense blistered USC Upstate early and often on Saturday night.
Ryan Shinn and Trey Dawson collected back-to-back RBI doubles in the second inning to give UK a 2-0 lead on Upstate’s Trey Van Der Wierde. UK would score a third run against Van Der Wierde in the fourth inning when Tristan Pompey drove in a run on a groundout to the shortstop.
UK did not truly break through until Upstate went to their bullpen in the sixth inning. After loading the bases, UK scored four straight runs to blow the game wide open. Kole Cottam picked up two RBIs in the inning as the Cats watched their lead swell to seven.
STATS: Becker(2/3, HR, RBI, BB, R), Aklinski (3/5, R), Collett (1/3, HR, 2 RBI), Cottam (1/4 RBI). Lewis: 6 innings, no runs, two hits, no walks, nine strikeouts.
— Trey Huntsman (@TreyHuntsmanKSR) February 18, 2018
The offense provided Lewis with more than enough run support against USCU. Lewis allowed just two runners to reach scoring position in six dazzling innings on the mound. The Georgia-native was pulled after the sixth inning, but his return to the mound was impactful. Lewis showed good command of all his pitches as he struck out nine and walked none in his 2018 debut.
Both UK and USCU would add three runs to the scoreboard in the final two innings. Luke Becker and T.J Collett smacked home runs in the top of the eighth before Upstate answered back with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. The three runs allowed by the UK bullpen were the first of 2018. Trip Lockhart came on for UK and closed out a 10-3 win.
The bullpen struggled late, but Lewis’ 2018 debut and a late-inning offensive outburst were enough to push the Cats to their first 3-0 start since 2015. Kentucky will finish their trip to Spartanburg with an 11 ET first pitch tomorrow morning against Evansville. 98.5 in Lexington will have the broadcast and @TreyHuntsmanKSR will have live tweets.