Kentucky finds themselves in a bit of a downslide for the first time in almost three months. The Cats dropped two of three against SEC bottom feeder Georgia this weekend at the Cliff and are now second in the East and third overall. Here is a look back at this weekend as well as notes and a preview of next weekend’s series versus Tennessee.
Georgia 5 Kentucky 3- In a game that was moved up to an early afternoon start, UK saw a ninth inning lead slip away. Two errors by Connor Heady and Tristan Pompey led to four unearned runs in the top of the ninth. The Cats recorded only one extra-base hit as Andrew Gist controlled the Cats offense into the seventh. UK had the winning run on base in the ninth inning but could not bring him around as they dropped game one to UGA.
Kentucky 7 Georgia 4- The BatCats got a big day from Troy Squires in support of Zach Logue. The junior catcher drove in four runs on two doubles to lead UK to their 32nd win of the season. Logue went 6.2 innings and struck out a career-high 11 on the mound. Zack Thompson struck out five of the seven batters he faced in relief.
Watch: @UKBaseball claimed their 15th SEC win this year as they defeated Georgia this evening.
– KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) May 7, 2017
Georiga 6 Kentucky 3- Sunday’s game was perhaps the most puzzling of the year. Riley Mahan hit his 10th home run of the season and Justin Lewis allowed only one run over seven innings of work. Lewis exited with 99 pitches and Logan Salow entered in the eighth. Salow had struggled on Friday but was still the first man out of the pen. In a blink of an eye, Georgia suddenly led by four thanks to a grand slam by Mitchell Webb. Once again, UK had the tying run at the plate in the ninth but could not get a big hit. The Cats dropped the series at home to Georgia.
Notes from the week
Evan White continues to be elite- White had six hits this weekend and is now 15th all-time in hits at UK. He has hits in 23 of his last 25 games and now has 19 multi-hit games in 2017. Coach Mingione has White batting second behind Pompey every day now, and I like that a lot. Both guys can be relied on because of the number of balls they barrel up and put into play. White is now hitting .391 in 35 games as a junior.
Zack Thompson’s new role could take UK places- As a freshman, Thompson has been used primarily as a midweek starter. But he has come out of the bullpen twice in SEC play, including this weekend. Thompson was great on Saturday. His curveball was excellent and he was hitting high-90s with his fastball. Having a weapon like him in the postseason could be what sets this team apart. Thompson will be a top two round pick in two years, and his talent level is already noticeable. He can be a guy that starts a fourth game of a tournament or even gets some big outs late in games.
When will see more of Chris Machamer?- The Ohio Player of the Year last year, Machamer has found more consistency late in his first season as a Cat. Machamer has struck out 22 in 19 innings while posting a 2.37 ERA. Today seemed like a good day for Machamer to be first out of the pen, but it was Salow that replaced Lewis in the eighth. Hopefully, we will see Machamer’s role grow as the team plays more games with fewer days off over the next month.
What does this weekend do to the odds of hosting?- UK was hurt a little by not having a midweek due to finals, so the 1-2 record looks bad for the week. Losing the series to Georgia probably drops UK out of being a national seed for the time being, but they will still be a lock to host next month.
KSR Projection for the Lexington Regional
- Wright State
The Cats are now tied for third in the SEC with LSU with a conference record of 15-9. Florida and Mississippi State are tied for the overall lead at 16-8. If my calculations are correct, UK would be the three seed in Hoover playing the winner of Missouri and Arkansas if the season ended today. South Carolina has now lost six straight series in conference play and looks to be on the bubble headed into the final two weekends of the season.
Cats in the Pros
JT Riddle was called back up to Marlins and will be with the big league team tomorrow. James Paxton was put on the 10-day DL this week with a forearm strain. Before the injury, Paxton was a 3-0 with a 1.43 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 37.2 innings. Dustin Beggs is proving his success at UK was no fluke. The innings-eater has a 1.29 ERA for Low-A Greensboro in six starts.
– Fish On The Farm (@marlinsminors) May 7, 2017
The Week Ahead
Kentucky has four extremely important games for seeding purposes this week. Indiana comes to the Cliff on Tuesday and Tennessee will be here for a weekend series. Tennessee is fighting to make the SEC Tournament and is spinning their tires late in the year. Dave Serrano is on the hot seat and winning games in Hoover is his last shot at retaining his job for 2018. Tennessee will come up here hungry and will be wanting to make a late season push. The game against Indiana will be the second toughest midweek opponent for UK this season. The Hoosiers have won eight of ten and are two games back in the Big Ten. Some projections have IU as the two seed in UK’s Regional in June. It will be a big game for RPI purposes.
New Podcast Tomorrow
The 11th episode of the KSR Baseball Podcast will be available tomorrow night. For those that downloaded last week’s show, thank you for putting us in the top ten of college podcasts!
People to follow on Twitter as we head into the homestretch
@TreyHuntsmanKSR @KeithMadison32 @JohnBurns_13 @AaronFitt