UK's Justin Lewis Flirts With Perfect Game As Wildcats Sweep No. 23 UC Santa Barbara Sunday
LEXINGTON, Ky. –Justin Lewis (pictured) had a perfect game through seven innings of Kentucky’s sweep-clinching 12-1 win against No. 23 UC Santa Barbara on an ideal Sunday, March 5 at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The win completed a perfect 5-0 home-opening week for the Wildcats.
This weekend’s sweep is Kentucky’s first over a ranked opponent since the Wildcats swept No. 2 South Carolina in March 2012. The Cats are now 7-5 overall and have won seven of their past eight games.
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Standing 6-foot-7, the redshirt sophomore right-hander went eight innings, racked up a career-high eight strikeouts and gave up just one hit – a solo home run in the top of the eighth to Austin Bush. In his last two starts, Lewis as given up just one run on three hits, one walk, and struck out 12.
“I didn’t really think about (the perfect game) until the sixth inning,” Lewis said. “I was down 3-0 or 3-1 to a guy and came back and struck him out. I started thinking that no one had been on base because I hadn’t pitched out of the stretch at all.”
UK coach Nick Mingione said, “This whole week has been really special. I feel really good about our starting pitching and the guys out of the bullpen have done a good job as well. I think guys are starting to get more comfortable, especially offensively.”
Tristian Pompey took control of the game from the outset. The sophomore outfielder went 3-of-4 at the plate with two RBI and one run, giving him his second multi-RBI game of the season and tenth of his career. Sunday’s 12-run outburst completed a week where the Cats outscored five opponents 46-6. Junior infielder Riley Mahan continued his hot hitting, piling up six extra-base hits and 11 RBI this week, while senior infielder Connor Heady set a new career-high in Sunday’s rout with three RBI.
UK’s weekend starters against UCSB combined to throw 22.1 innings, giving up 11 hits, two runs, three walks, and struck out 19. For the weekend, the pitching staff struck out 26 batters, 24 of which were swinging.
Kentucky will host Wright State on Tuesday, March 7. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game also will be aired on SEC Network Plus (online).
Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics