UK baseball sweeps USC Upstate in doubleheader


Kentucky Wildcats catcher Kole Cottam hits an RBI double during the seventh inning of the region championship game of the Lexington Regional at Cliff Hagan Stadium on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

Charlee Schaefer

No. 8 UK baseball played a doubleheader against the University of South Carolina Upstate Spartans on Saturday, winning both games and bringing its record to 3-0 to start the season.

Despite the wins, the day was packed with unfortunate events for the Cats as Troy Squires was hit by a total of four pitches while at bat, and the first game was riddled by a continuous drizzle.

In game one, sophomore left-handed pitcher Zach Thompson took the mound in an uncharacteristic performance. After a rainy few innings, Thompson’s pitching command seemed a bit off, and he was replaced by Brad Schaenzer. Schaenzer pitched 2.2 innings after Thompson gave up five runs.

The Cats had their work cut out for them after they fell behind 5-0 and appeared defeated after five innings. Squires reached home to get the Cats on the board in the sixth inning after an error from the Spartans. Tristan Pompey, Ben Aklinski and Kole Cottam all had RBIs to tie the game at 5-5 in later innings.

Freshman right-hander Jimmy Ramsey had a phenomenal performance on the mound in his debut with the Cats, pitching 2.2 innings and allowing no hits. Ramsey said after the game his fastball location across the plate was good and credits his defense for the work they did.

The Cats fought hard and came back in extra innings to win 6-5 when Cottom hit an RBI single to bring Luke Becker home.

In game two, returning 2017 MLB draftee Justin Lewis had the start and put together a great performance, totaling a career-high nine strikeouts, while allowing only two hits in six shutout innings.

“I was just having fun throwing strikes,” Lewis said. “We used a lot of bullpen guys in the last game so I wanted to give them a bit of a break.”

“I just thought Justin Lewis was fantastic,” head coach Nick Mingione said. “Even after that big inning he sat there and went down to the bullpen and he threw more pitches. He looked me right in the eye and said, ‘Coach, I’m good, I’m going to go do this.'” 

After struggling early in the first game, offensively, UK’s bats came alive in the nightcap, scoring a total of 10 runs.

After Lewis’s stellar performance, the bullpen took the helm and finished things up. Mason Hazelwood, Crosby Bringhurst, Austin Keen and Trip Lockhart all made appearances and held the Spartans to only three runs. 

The Cats will close the weekend on Sunday at 11 a.m. against the Evansville Aces.