By Connor Link
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The top-seeded Kentucky baseball team avenged its only loss of the NCAA Tournament Lexington Regional with an 8-6 win over No. 3 seed NC State on Sunday night, June 4 at Cliff Hagan Stadium in front of a raucous crowd of 3,261 fans. With the victory, the Cats paved the way for a winner-take-all regional final with the Wolfpack on Monday at 7:04 p.m.
The big blow for the Wildcats came in the bottom of the sixth inning. Leading 4-3, the Wildcats posted four runs -- all with two outs -- thanks to some timely hitting and patience at the plate.
After UK forced NC State starter Brian Brown out of the game, the Wildcats forced two more additional pitching changes before the Wolfpack could get out of the inning. In addition to Zach Reks’ RBI single and Luck Becker’s RBI single, the Wildcats scored on a bases-loaded walk from Evan White and a wild pitch that scored Kole Cottam.
NC State got within two on a mammoth three-run shot from Joe Dunand, but Kentucky senior Logan Salow came in and slammed the door shut for his second save of the weekend and his 12th of the season. The left-hander from Ashland, Kentucky, struck out four without giving up a run, hit, or walk over 2.2 innings.
The Wildcats improved to 42-21 on the year, while NC State dropped to 36-24.
Senior center fielder Marcus Carson anchored Kentucky’s attack at the plate, batting 2-for-4 with one run and an RBI, highlighted by a solo homer to right-center field in the bottom of the fourth. Reks went 3-for-5 with one run and two RBIs, while sophomore right fielder Tristan Pompey scored two runs by way of a 3-for-5 performance.
Kentucky freshman Chris Machamer (pictured) tallied his second career win on the mound, allowing three runs off three hits while striking out four and walking one over 2.1 innings of work. NC State junior Brian Brown fell to 4-2 on the season after allowing six runs off 10 hits, striking out five and walking one in 5.2 innings.
The winner of Monday night's elimination game will move on to this weekend’s Super Regional in Louisville after taking home the Lexington Regional crown. Monday marks the third meeting between Kentucky and NC State in as many days, with each team splitting 1-1.
Photo by Elliott Hess, UK Athletics