UK baseball wins first SEC series


TRISTAN POMPEY. The University of Kentucky baseball team falls to Xavier 3-2, on Tuesday, February 21, 2018 at Cliff Hagen Stadium in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Elliott Hess | UK Athletics

Charlee Schaefer

The No. 6 UK baseball team played in its second doubleheader of the season on Sunday, looking to win its first SEC series of the season versus the No. 10 Auburn Tigers.

After dropping the first game of the afternoon, the Cats won the rubber match in the second seven-inning game of the day after falling to clinch their first SEC series victory of the season.

“To win this series was really big for our baseball program,” head coach Nick Mingione said.

In game one, junior right-handed pitcher Zach Haake got his first start with UK and pitched 3.2 shutout innings with two strikeouts. Haake had previously appeared in a little over seven innings of relief.

UK’s pitching had a combined six shutout innings until closer Chris Machamer ran out of gas and allowed four runs in the top of the seventh inning, forcing the Cats to make an attempt at their second comeback of the weekend.

The Cats fell short 4-3 after they rallied with a two-run home run from Ben Aklinski, his fourth of the year. 

In the rubber match, veteran Justin Lewis took the mound and pitched five innings where he allowed only one run and one hit. The second inning was long and Lewis got behind in the count but he settled in nicely after. 

Both starting pitchers struggled with walks early but it only had an impact on Auburn, as UK scored eight runs in the first three innings alone. The Tigers were forced to use eight pitchers after their starter only lasted two innings. 

Tristan Pompey got things off to a quick start with a shot to right field in the bottom of the first. The Cats scored two in the second and put up five more runs in the third. 

UK won by a final score of 13-3. 

Pompey had an eventful game, going 4-5 with a home run, double and two singles. 

“I thought Tristan just had a phenomenal day today. I thought he paved the way,” Mingione said. “When he’s going like that, our offense is really, really difficult to stop.”

The bats were quiet in game one and they did not have the insurance they needed, eventually coming back to bite them, but an offensive surge put the Cats on top in the final game and secured the series win.

The Cats are back in action on Wednesday versus the Miami of Ohio Redhawks, but the game could get postponed due to expected heavy rain. They head to Alabama next weekend for their third SEC matchup against the Tide, looking to win their first conference series on the road.