Cats pick up first SEC road game after trouble in Tuscaloosa


Kentucky Wildcats pitcher Justin Lewis delivers a pitch during the ninth inning of the second game of 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Baseball Super Regional at Jim Patterson Stadium on Saturday, June 10, 2017 in Louisville, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

Charlee Schaefer

On Easter Sunday, the No. 6 UK baseball team got its first SEC road win of the season with a 5-2 victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide.

With Sunday’s win, the Cats recorded one win in the series versus Alabama. The Tide clinched the series with a win on Saturday, but the Cats avoided what would have been their third straight loss in SEC play and second sweep.

On Saturday, Zach Haake had a stellar performance in his second start of the season but had a rough finish that played a big factor in deciding the game.

Late in the eighth inning, Haake remained on the mound after loading the bases and throwing more than 100 pitches total in the game. Instead of putting in a relief pitcher, Haake stayed in the game and his next pitch was a grand slam out of the park.

Haake allowed only two hits, one of which was the grand slam from Hunter Alexander, giving Alabama the win after UK’s rally effort was not enough. 

On Sunday, Justin Lewis took the mound in typical Sunday fashion and recorded his fifth win of the season.

“Really proud of the way our team responded today,” head coach Nick Mingione said.

Lewis went 7.1 innings before passing the ball to closer Chris Machamer. He allowed only two runs early but settled in nicely after and added six strikeouts to the book. 

“I’m just continuing to trust the process and trust my routine,” Lewis said after the game. “Just not do anything different because baseball is a long season so I don’t want to get away from what’s been successful for me in the past.” 

Ryan Shinn and Marshall Gei both got their first start as the designated hitter this weekend. Mingione is trying to shake things up with the lineup because something has not been clicking in recent weeks, according to Haake.

Kole Cottam hit his 12th home run of the season on Sunday and now leads the SEC in home runs. The Cats also lead the SEC in home runs as a team.

This is a crucial point in the season and the team hopes this win will change its luck and give the Cats momentum. They currently have the worst record in the conference. 

“There is going to come a point in time where we are going to have to win a couple on the road and we’re going to have to win a series,” Mingione said. “Especially if we want to make a run and get deep into the postseason.” 

The offense has had major problems producing on the road now that conference play has settled in but the Sunday win shows some promise.

The Cats have a big week ahead with rival Louisville coming to Cliff Hagan on Tuesday and South Carolina for the weekend series. The first pitch for the game against Louisville is on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.