LEXINGTON, Ky. – Needing a series win to keep pace in the conference title race, No. 9 Kentucky rode another offensive onslaught to a 10-5 victory over South Carolina on Sunday, April 8 at Cliff Hagan Stadium, capturing the three-game series.
The Wildcats (22-10, 5-7 SEC) got back-to-back home runs from Tristan Pompey and Troy Squires to lead off the game, again from Luke Heyer and Luke Becker in the sixth inning and enough pitching and timely defense to fend off the pesky Gamecocks. All nine UK starters reached base safely and eight collected a hit as the offense scored double-digit runs in each of the Cats’ win.
Becker, who was celebrating his 22nd birthday, extended his reached base safely streak to all 32 games this season while going 2-for-2 with a home run, three walks and two runs scored. Pompey had three hits, including his fourth career leadoff home run, while Squires homered for the second time on a weekend that also saw him get his 100th career hit.
Even with the offensive production the Cats need a third straight dependable effort from junior right-handed starter Justin Lewis, who had won earned wins each of the past two Sundays. He fought his command at times but grabbed his sixth win of the season while allowing just three runs in 5.1 innings. Sophomore closer Chris Machamer slammed the door on the Gamecocks over the final 2.1 scoreless innings, including getting the Cats out of a jam in the seventh when he entered with the tying run on deck.
In between those pitching performances was one of the Cats’ most important – and most jaw-dropping – defensive plays of the season. With the Cats clinging to a 5-3 lead and runners on second and third with two outs in the sixth, junior shortstop Trey Dawson (pictured) dove to his left to snare a one-hop rocket, collected himself and fire a bullet to first where junior Kole Cottam scooped the short-hop to nail the runner and end the threat without the tying run scoring.
Having gone 3-1 at home in a crucial week against No. 21 Louisville and South Carolina the Cats hit the road this week with a Wednesday game at Western Carolina and a three-game series at No. 16 Georgia next weekend.
UK Athletics Photo by Chet White