Kole Cottam and Tristan Pompey combined for three doubles, two home runs and six RBI in No. 16 Kentucky’s 14-2 victory over Murray State at Brooks Stadium in the far western corner of the Commonwealth on Tuesday night. The game was declared final after eight innings of play.
The Wildcats (34-18, 13-14 SEC) now turn their attention to a critically important series against Vanderbilt in Nashville where they could play their way into the pole position for one of the 16 regional hosts sites in the NCAA Tournament.
After a bit of a slow start UK blew the game open with a five-run sixth inning highlighted by Pompey’s towering grand slam to right field, the fourth by a Wildcat this season. The rally began with a walk by Ben Aklinski, a single from Zeke Lewis and walk by Trey Dawson to load the bases. Pompey the attacked the first pitch and uncorked the Cats’ third home run of the night.
Two innings later the Cats put up a six-spot during which Pompey hit two doubles in the frame, Aklinski tripled and Trey Dawson had a two-run single. Eight of the Cats’ nine starters reached base safely in the game, three had multiple hits and four drove in at least two runs in the balanced effort.
Cottam gave the Cats the lead for good with his two-run blast to right field in the fifth inning as he continues to bolster his case for All-America honors. Meanwhile, Pompey has found his groove in the month of May, hitting .454 in eight games to raise his batting average 26 points in the process. He has six doubles, two home runs, 11 runs scored and nine RBI during that time.
Freshman left-hander Mason Hazelwood earned his first collegiate win with two scoreless innings of relief, continuing his recent breakthrough as well.
The Cats will travel to Paducah, Ky. on Tuesday night to face Murray State and then on to Nashville for the final regular season series at Vanderbilt next Thursday-Saturday.
Bottom 3rd – Bryan Chilton singled to RF, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Ryan Perkins. Murray 1, UK 0.
Top 4th – Ben Aklinski homered to LCF. UK 1, Murray 1.
Bottom 4th – Brandon Gutzler singled to lead off the inning, advanced to second on a balk and third on a wild pitch. Jaron Robinson singled through the left side, scoring Gutzler. Murray 2, UK 1.
Top 5th – Tristan Pompey singled and scored on Kole Cottam’s home run to RF. UK 3, Murray 2.
Top 6th – Aklinski walked, Zeke Lewis singled and Trey Dawson walked to load the bases. Pompey hit a grand slam to RF. Luke Becker walked and Luke Heyer was hit by a pitch. Troy Squires lined a single to RF, scoring Becker. UK 8, Murray 2.
Top 8th – Pompey doubled to LF and stole third. Cottam walked. Becker singled, scoring Pompey and advancing Cottam to second. Squires reached on an error to load the bases. Cottam scored on a wild pitch with both Becker and Squires moving up a base. Aklinski tripled to RCF, scoring Becker and Squires. Lewis was hit by a pitch. Dawson singled to score Aklinski and Lewis. Pompey doubled to RF. UK 14, Murray 2.
· Kentucky has scored in 60 consecutive games and 136 of the past 137 dating to the 2016 season. The lone shutout came in a seven-inning game.
· The Cats recorded a “biggie” inning for the fourth straight game and now have 30 this season. A “biggie” inning is one of at least four runs.
· The Cats now have scored double-digit runs 18 times this season.
· The offense had eight extra-base hits: four doubles, a triple and three home runs.
· UK is 37-1 under coach Nick Mingione when scoring 10 or more runs.
· Several Cats extended impressive reached base safely streaks …
o Junior C/1B Kole Cottam has reached safely in 15 straight games, has hits in 26 of the past 28 games and is riding a career-long 15-game hit streak.
o Junior INF Trey Dawson has now reached base safely in 13 straight and 22 of his last 23 games.
o Senior INF/OF Luke Heyer has reached in 15 straight games and 20 of the last 21 games.
o Senior INF Luke Becker has reached in 50 of 52 games (and 94 of 96 including 2017 summer ball).
· Junior OF Tristan Pompey went 4-for-6 with three runs, four RBI, two doubles, a grand slam and a stolen base.
o The home run was his seventh of the season and second straight midweek game with a blast.
o He has 18 doubles this season and 44 for his career.
o He now has 190 career hits, moving him past Michael Bertram (2003-06) into 18th place on UK’s all-time list. He is five behind AJ Reed (2012-14).
o Pompey now has 18 multi-hit games this season and 52 for his career.
o He has 14 multi-RBI games this season and 29 for his career.
· Junior C/1B Kole Cottam went 2-for-4 with two runs, two RBI, two walks, a double and a home run.
o Cottam now has 11 doubles and 17 home runs this season.
o He has a team-leading 22 multi-hit games this season and 48 for his career.
o Cottam tied Luke Heyer for the team-lead with 14 multi-RBI games and now has 29 for his career.
· Senior INF/OF Luke Heyer had his third double in the past two games.
o Heyer now has 17 doubles and 17 home runs on the season.
· Senior INF Luke Becker went 1-for-2 with two runs, an RBI, two walks and a hit by pitch.
o The senior now has 93 career walks and is on the verge of entering the top 10 for career walks along with Tristan Pompey (94).
· Junior OF Ben Aklinski went 2-for-4 with three runs, three RBI, a triple, a home run and a walk.
o The home run was his sixth of the season.
o He now has 18 multi-hit games and seven multi-RBI games this season.
· Redshirt Freshman Brayden Combs earned his first career start.
· Freshman LHP Mason Hazelwood earned his first career collegiate victory with 2.0 scoreless innings.
The Wildcats will make the relatively short drive to Nashville for their final series of the season, facing Vanderbilt at Hawkins Field beginning Thursday night in the Music City. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET and will be streamed on SECN+ with the radio call on the UK Sports Network.
Follow along with the Cats on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and on the web at UKathletics.com.
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