The Kentucky baseball team closed out three straight weekends against top 10 opponents by splitting a Sunday doubleheader against No. 9 Auburn, giving them a series victory with the nightcap’s 13-3 rout at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The No. 6 Wildcats (17-7, 2-4 SEC) claimed two of the three series, have four victories against top 10 clubs this season and own the same overall record through 24 games as they did a season ago.
After dropping the opener 4-3 as the Tigers rallied in the final inning, the Cats rebounded in a big way with their backs up against the wall. Junior All-American Tristan Pompey led off the game with his third home run of the season, setting the tone for a game that saw the Cats score in all six innings – both games were seven inning affairs due to the doubleheader. Pompey finished 4-for-5 in the second game, driving in a career-high five runs and missing just the triple in the quest for the cycle.
Junior right-hander Justin Lewis rebounded from a difficult outing at Arkansas last weekend by one-hitting the Tigers through five innings of work. Although he was uncharacteristically wild he battled out of an early jam and allowed just one run to earn his 12th career victory.
Junior C/1B Kole Cottam (2-for-3, career-high four runs scored, home run) and senior IF/OF Luke Heyer (3-for-4, two runs, two RBI) also highlighted an attack where all nine starters reached base safely and seven had hits in game two.
In the opener, junior righty Zach Haake made his first career start for the Cats and held Auburn scoreless on one hit through 3.2 innings as the Cats took a 1-0 lead into the seventh. A bloop hit to start the inning set up Auburn’s four-run rally and the Cats were unable to come all the way back despite Ben Aklinski’s two-run homer in the UK’s final at bat.
GAME 1 – SCORING
Bottom 1st – Tristan Pompey walked. Troy Squires hit into a fielder’s choice. Ben Aklinski singled to RF. Luke Becker walked to load the bases. Luke Heyer walked, scoring Squires. UK 1, Auburn 0.
Top 7th – Jay Estes singled to LF and moved to second on Dylan Ingram’s SAC bunt. Luke Jarvis doubled off the RF wall, scoring Estes. Will Holland singled to RF, scoring Jarvis. Steven Williams singled to LF, moving Holland to second. Venter singled down the LF line, scoring Holland and moving Williams to third. Pinch hitter Judd Ward singled to CF, scoring Williams. Auburn 4, UK 1.
Bottom 7th – Trey Dawson doubled down the LF line and scored on Aklinski’s home run to LF. Auburn 4, UK 3.
GAME 2 – SCORING
Bottom 1st – Tristan Pompey homered to RF. UK 1, Auburn 0.
Top 2nd – Brett Wright, Josh Anthony and Dylan Ingram all walked. Jay Estes hit a SAC fly to CF, scoring Wright. UK 1, Auburn 1.
Bottom 2nd – Kole Cottam reached on an infield single and Trey Dawson walked. Pompey doubled over the LF’s head, scoring Cottam and moving Dawson to third. Troy Squires hit a SAC fly to LF, scoring Dawson. UK 3, Auburn 1.
Bottom 3rd – Luke Becker singled to RF. Ryan Johnson walked and Becker advanced to third on a throwing error by the catcher. Luke Heyer doubled to LF, scoring both Becker and Johnson. T.J. Collett walked. Cottam was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Pompey singled to LF, scoring Heyer and Collett and moving Cottam to second. Ben Aklinski hit a SAC fly to LF, scoring Cottam. UK 8, Auburn 1.
Bottom 4th – Heyer singled to CF and scored on Cottam’s home run to CF. UK 10, Auburn 1.
Bottom 5th – Aklinski doubled to RCF and scored on Becker’s single to RF. UK 11, Auburn 1.
Bottom 6th – Heyer and Collett singled. Cottam reached on a fielder’s choice with Heyer out at third. Pompey singled to LF, scoring Collett. Squires singled to LF, scoring Cottam. UK 13, Auburn 1.
Top 7th – Judd Ward walked and Luke Jarvis singled. Will Holland doubled down the LF line, scoring both Ward and Jarvis. UK 13, Auburn 3.
· The Cats are now 5-5 vs. ranked teams this season, including 4-5 vs. Top 10 teams.
· The offense has …
o Hit a home run in 23 of 24 games this season.
o Racked up 109 extra-base hits
· Several Cats extended impressive reached base safely streaks…
o Junior OF Tristan Pompey has reached in 54 of the last 56 games.
o Senior INF Luke Becker has reached in all 24 games.
o Senior C/1B Troy Squires has reached in 23 of 24 games this season.
o Junior OF Ben Aklinski has reached in 18 of the last 19 games.
o Sophomore DH T.J. Collett has reached in 21 of the past 23 games.
· In game two of the doubleheader, all nine starters reached base safely.
o Seven starters recorded hits.
· Junior OF Tristan Pompey went 4-for-5 with a run, five RBI, double and home run in Game 2.
o The home run was his third of the season and 20th career blast.
o He is the first UK player to lead off the game for the Cats with a home run since he did so at Missouri last season.
o He now has nine doubles in 2018 and 35 for his career.
o The five RBI are a new career-high, surpassing his previous best of four.
o The four hits match his career-high.
o Pompey now has six multi-hit games this season and 40 in his career.
o He has three multi-RBI games this season and 23 for his career.
· Junior C/1B Kole Cottam went 2-for-3 with four runs scored, two RBI and a home run in Game 2.
o The home run is his 10th, which is a season career-high for him.
o The four runs scored are a new career-high.
o Cottam nine multi-hit games this season and 35 for his career.
o Cottam has nine multi-RBI games this season and 24 for his career.
· Senior IF/OF Luke Heyer went 3-for-4 with two runs, two RBI and a double in Game 2.
o Heyer now has 11 multi-hit games this season and 15 in his career.
o He has nine multi-RBI games this season and 12 for his career.
o He has 18 extra-base hits in 23 games.
· Junior OF Ben Aklinski homered in Game 1, giving him home runs in three of the past four games at that time.
· Junior RHP Justin Lewis earned the win in Game 2, the 12th of his career.
o Lewis allowed just one hit in 5.0 innings.
· Junior RHP Zach Haake started Game 1, the first start of his UK career.
o Haake got a no-decision, pitching 3.2 innings while allowing one hit, walking four and striking out two.
The Cats remain at home for a midweek game with Miami (Ohio) on Wednesday. First pitch will be at 6:30 p.m. ET. The game will be streamed on the SECN+ with radio on 630 AM WLAP.
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