LEXINGTON, Ky. – The firsts just keep piling up for No. 16 Kentucky, which knocked off No. 22 Vanderbilt 7-4 on Saturday, April 1 to clinch the first series win over the always-strong Commodores since 2009. The Wildcats will go for their second sweep in the first three weekends of Southeastern Conference play on Sunday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The winning template was nearly identical to Friday night’s 10-3 victory in the series opener – put up a crooked number in the early innings to gain momentum and let the starting pitcher go to work with a lead. This time, the Cats (21-7, 7-1 SEC) scored five runs in the third inning – four coming with two outs – against highly-regarded pitching prospect Kyle Wright and two more in the fifth before cruising to their 21st win in the past 24 games.
The 7-1 start to league play is the best since the 1992 club also won seven of its first eight in the conference. Kentucky has now won 10 of its last 11 games against ranked competition, including all seven of its SEC victories.
For the second consecutive day the Cats worked a five-run inning out of the Vanderbilt starter, giving them an early cushion. Four of the runs scored with two outs on Luke Becker’s single, Riley Mahan’s triple off the left-centerfield wall and Kole Cottam’s two-run bases loaded single to left.
That was all junior lefty Zach Logue would need, as he dealt a career-high eight innings and tied a career-high with seven strikeouts, yielding only Preseason SEC Player of the Year Jeren Kendall’s solo home run in the eighth. Logue now owns the sixth-best career ERA in UK history at 3.16.
AT THE PLATE
Numerous Wildcats stepped up and contributed to UK’s powerful offensive performance, with eight of the hitters in the lineup recording an RBI and/or run scored. Kole Cottam went 2-of-4 at the plate with two RBI for his fourth multi-RBI game of the season and eighth of his career. Both Luke Becker and Tristan Pompey (pictured) went 1-for-3 with two runs and one RBI. Zach Reks, Riley Mahan and Tyler Marshall all finished with one RBI each.
ON THE MOUND
Zach Logue got to work early in his sixth win of the season, striking out two of three batters he faced in the first inning. In posting a career-high eight innings the junior tied his career high in strikeouts (7) for the third time and gave up a single run that didn’t come until the eighth inning on Preseason SEC Player of the Year Jeren Kendall’s solo home run.
This is Kentucky’s first series win over Vanderbilt since 2009 in Lexington.
The Cats are now 15-1 at home this season.
The Cats’ 7-1 start in SEC play is the best since the 1992 team began league play 7-1 on its way to an 8-1 mark through the first three weeks of conference play.
Kentucky is now 10-4 against ranked opponents this season, having won 10 of the past 11.
UK has won 19 of the past 21 and 21 of past 24 games.
Junior 1B Evan White went 2-of-5 with a run scored.
White now has 176 career hits, moving him into 19th place along on UK’s career hits list. He needs one more to tie John Shelby (2004-06) for 18th.
White’s career batting average is .355, tying him with Randy Clark (1984-85) for fifth on UK’s all-time career average chart.
Sophomore OF Tristan Pompey went 1-of-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Pompey tied his career-long hitting streak, set earlier this season, at eight games.
Pompey has had a hit in 16 of the past 17 games.
Junior IF Riley Mahan went 1-of-4 with a run and an RBI.
Mahan ripped his first triple of the season and fifth of his career. It was just the fourth triple for the Cats this season.
Mahan has 118 career hits, one behind Michael Williams (2009-12) for 40th on UK’s all-time list.
Junior LHP Zach Logue earned his fifth win on the season, going 8.0 innings while giving up six hits, one run, walking one and strikeout out seven.
Logue’s 8.0 innings set a new career-high for a game.
Logue tied his career-high with seven strikeouts.
Logue’s career ERA of 3.16 ranks sixth on UK’s career ERA list.
Kentucky will attempt to record its second sweep over a ranked SEC team in three weekends on Sunday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Fans can listen on the UK Sports Network via UKathletics.com and iHeart Radio, as well as on 630 AM WLAP. The game will be aired on SEC Network Plus (online).
Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics