Home runs help UK baseball rout Dayton

By David Schuh

The UK baseball team extended their school record home win streak to 20 games as they beat the University of Dayton 19-6 Wednesday night in Lexington. It was the Cats’ ninth double-digit scoring effort of the season thus far. They had seven in all of last season.

A two-hour weather caused first pitch to be pushed back to 8:30 p.m. and a light rain persisted through most of the game.

The Flyers didn’t let the delay faze them in the first. A four-hit inning, including back-to-back two-RBI doubles, put Dayton up four early. A solo home run by UK senior Thomas McCarthy in the bottom half made it 4-1 after one.

UK starting pitcher freshman Chandler Sheppard didn’t make it through the opening frame, getting pulled after only two outs.

Dayton was right back at it in the second, scoring on an error by freshman centerfielder Austin Cousino. But again, the Cats answered in the bottom.

Cousino redeemed himself with a bases-loaded, one out single to center to score two. McCarthy followed with another single and his second RBI of the night. Two batters later, junior Luke Maile hit a three-run home run, his seventh of the year, to put UK up 7-5 after just two innings.

And they kept it going. Junior Zac Zellers walked to lead off the third, and sophomore J.T. Riddle hit a line drive home run over the right field fence to extend the score to 9-5 UK.

In the fourth, Maile connected again, hitting a solo home run to center, his team leading eighth of the year.

But, the Cats still weren’t done. They tacked on one run in the fifth on a solo home run by sophomore Matt Reida to make a six-run lead. Then, after three walks to load the bases, Zellers hit a grand slam to stretch the score to 15-5. When it was all said and done, they had turned a four-run deficit into a 13-run lead.

Dayton added one in the seventh, but never really assembled a big rally after the first. The UK bullpen pitched a lot of innings, but did so very well, giving up two runs and nine hits in 8.1 innings.

“Sam Mahar came in and got it done for 4.1, I was really pleased with his effort,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said. “To be able to get (Spencer Drake) and Taylor (Martin) in the ballgame was great. That’s what we’re hoping to do.”

UK’s offense recorded a season-high 24 hits, led by multi-hit games from Cousino, McCarthy, Maile, Zellers and Riddle. They scored at least one run in every inning.

“Top to bottom it seemed like everybody saw the ball well,” Cousino said. “We got 24 hits and 19 runs and that’s just a complement to the offense we showed tonight.”

The No. 1 ranked Cats (28-2, 7-2 SEC) return to action this weekend when they host No. 10 Ole Miss at Cliff Hagan Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Friday.