Cats sweep rival Volunteers, stay in SEC contention

Outfielder Tristan Pompey hits the ball up the middle during a game against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Carter Gossett | Staff

Charlee Schaefer

No. 8 UK baseball finished its last at-home series of conference play on Sunday afternoon with a win over the Tennessee Volunteers at Cliff Hagan stadium, beating the Vols by a final score of 7-2. 

UK came alive this weekend, offensively, with several extra-base hits. 

In game two on Saturday night, the Cats had home runs from Evan White, Marcus Carson and Riley Mahan. Mahan hit two home runs in the game, making it his fifth long-ball in the last four SEC games.

The Cats took an early lead again on Sunday and scored four runs in the 1st inning. Many UK players provided big-time hits throughout the game, including a solo home run in the eighth inning by Tristan Pompey that went over the “Big Blue Monster” in right field.  

UK’s pitching also excelled this weekend with key performances from Sean Hjelle, Chris Machamer, Zach Thompson and Logan Salow. 

Salow was given the save on Sunday, and he now has the second in most saves in a season, by any UK baseball player.

“It’s nice, it’s pretty cool to be able to look back on but right now, our focus is on winning every game,” Salow said. “The fact that I get the statistic with it is good, but at the end of the day we are winning baseball games.”  

Sunday’s win concluded the sweep over Tennessee, and the Cats are now 18-9 in SEC play. They will finish conference play after they face the Florida Gators next weekend.

The Cats realize that this is a huge win but know that they are not quite finished yet. If they make it all the way, they will be playing for seven more weeks and they cannot lose sight of what’s ahead.

“I told our team, every weekend from here on out, we are playing for a championship,” head coach Nick Mingione said.

With the second most SEC wins in school history, this team is not going to stop until they each have a championship ring on their finger. After Tuesday’s non-conference game against Northern Kentucky University, the Cats have a long road trip which starts in Gainesville, Florida, and will culminate at the SEC tournament in Hoover, Alabama.