Cats force Monday night championship game


Kentucky Wildcats catcher Kole Cottam is greeted by teammates after scoring a run in the sixth inning of the region championship game of the Lexington Regional at Cliff Hagan Stadium on Sunday, June 4, 2017 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

Charlee Schaefer

With the season on the line, No. 1 regionally seeded UK baseball recorded two wins on Sunday versus No. 2 Indiana and No. 3 North Carolina State.

The Cats will now face NC State in the regional championship on Monday evening. 

After a substandard performance in Hoover, Alabama at the SEC tournament, the Cats lost their projected national seed and their right to host a super regional. UK knew that they had to step it up this weekend in the regional if they wanted to continue in the postseason. 

In game one of two on Sunday, freshman left-hander Zach Thompson proved yet again why he has been a key in UK’s rotation all season. 

NC State’s Tony Butler made contact with Thompson’s first pitch of the game, sending a home run over the wall in left field but Thompson did not let it rattle him. He pitched seven innings and recorded seven strikeouts to help the Cats to a 14-9 victory, getting his 8th win of the season.

After replacing Thompson in the 8th inning, senior Colton Cleary allowed five runs in the bottom of the 9th before he was replaced by Alec Maley, who secured the win. 

In game two left-handed junior Brad Schaenzer went four innings, allowing three runs and six hits. The Cats needed a strong performance from the bullpen in an effort to keep options open for the championship, as pitching is limited. Chris Machamer and Logan Salow finished the game and recorded a combined eight strikeouts.  

UK’s defense has improved tremendously this weekend as they have not recorded any errors and have made some impressive plays.

“For us to do great things and to be champions and put rings on our fingers, we have to be able to do that. We need to be as good as we have ever been, right now,” head coach Nick Mingione said. 

The Cats came alive offensively on Sunday, with 22 runs off of 32 hits. 

The wins in the regional thus far would not have been possible if their bats were silent as they were in Hoover at the SEC Tournament. 

The Cats have their biggest game of the season on Monday at 7:00 p.m. facing NC State in the winner-take-all regional championship where they will compete for a regional title and a chance to play in the super regional next weekend in Louisville.