Cats sweep Grizzlies with big offensive showing


University of Kentucky player Kole Cottam gets a hit during the 2018 baseball season home opener against Xavier University on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Charlee Schaefer

On Sunday afternoon, the No. 8 UK baseball team finished off its first series sweep of the season, defeating Oakland 15-6. 

After completing the sweep against the Golden Grizzlies, UK is now 7-1 on the season, with the Cats’ only loss coming to Xavier in an extra-inning matchup.

In Saturday’s game, the Cats scored 17 runs with big at-bats from Ben Aklinski and Kole Cottam, among many others. Aklinski had three singles while Cottam had three hits, one of which was a home run, and four RBI. 

Sophomore left-handed pitcher Zack Thompson got the start and recorded his first win of the season. He pitched six innings, allowing four runs, walking two batters and striking out six. His ERA is now 9.35 after his second appearance of the year.

Left-hander Mason Hazelwood replaced Thompson in the seventh inning and kept the damage at two runs in his two innings. Alec Maley finished things out strong in the ninth inning, keeping his ERA at 0.00. Hazelwood and Maley had a combined three strikeouts. 

On Sunday, Justin Lewis became the second UK pitcher of the weekend to pass his career high strikeouts at 11 total, beating his previous record of nine. Hjelle had a career-high 13 on Friday.

Read: Hjelle’s career performance lifts UK over Oakland in series opener

The Cats had another huge day at the plate, scoring 15 runs. That brought their weekend total to 42 runs scored.

“When our offensive is at our best, it’s not only about hitting. You’ve gotta have more and we were able to do that,” head coach Nick Mingione said after the game. “The home runs help, especially TJ (Collett).

Collett continued his assault on the opposing teams’ pitching by recording home runs four and five in game two and three of the series. Collett has already had an outstanding season as the designated hitter.

“He is just on fire and you know what, we just have this neat deal going on in our dugout where offensively we have some really neat synergy going where guys are helping each other and I am just really proud of the job they’re doing there,” Mingione said.

Luke Heyer and Ryan Johnson each hit a home run while going 2-3 at the plate on Sunday. 

Aaron McGeorge, Chris Machamer and Carson Coleman had a combined effort out of the bullpen and contributed to the Cats third win of the weekend.

The Cats will face WKU next on Tuesday at 4 p.m. in Lexington before they head to Houston next weekend to play in the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros.