UK baseball caps off stellar week with series victory over LSU

Kentucky Wildcats short stop Riley Mahan throws the ball to first base to complete the double play in the seventh inning of the game against the LSU Tigers at Cliff Hagan Stadium on Sunday, April 23, 2017 in Lexington, KY. 

Chris Angolia

No. 10 UK baseball capped off one of the more impressive weeks in college baseball this season with a 10-2 victory over No. 8 LSU on Sunday. The Cats’ series victory gave UK its third win over a top-10 team this past week after beating No. 2 Louisville on Tuesday.

The rout of the Tigers clinched the series for the Cats who have now won five of their six SEC series, and remain atop the conference’s East division.

The Cats jumped out to an early lead in the rubber game on Sunday after plating four runs in the first inning courtesy of an RBI double from Zach Reks, and a two-RBI double by Luke Becker. Marcus Carson also picked up an RBI on a fielder’s choice to give UK and Justin Lewis a nice cushion on the mound.

Lewis did not need much cushion however, as he picked up his sixth victory of the year and tossed a complete game allowing just two runs, one earned, on six hits. Lewis also struck out six Tigers and continued to be one of the nation’s better Sunday arms.

Games one and two of the series were both played on Friday due to the lack of cooperation from Mother Nature on Saturday.

In game one of the series, the Cats put up double digit runs and used another quick start to take game one of the series 12-5.

Eight of UK’s 12 runs came courtesy of Becker and Riley Mahan. Becker, who pinch hit in the fifth, smashed two home runs and picked up five RBI, four coming on his grand slam in the seventh. Mahan was an impressive 5-5 in game one on Friday including two doubles and his three RBI.

Just as Lewis was on Sunday, Sean Hjelle was the beneficiary of some early offense as the Cats put up two runs in the first to get things going. Hjelle uncharacteristically struggled with control, walking five batters, but managed to power through and out-duel projected top-pick Jared Poche’ to give UK a 1-0 series lead.

Game two saw the Cats grab yet another early lead, but this time they could not hang on and the Tigers evened the series with a 4-3 victory in Friday’s second game.

Nonetheless, a 3-1 week with a pair of victories over eighth ranked LSU and a win over second ranked Louisville is something that not many teams can say they did in a season, let alone a week.

Mahan was the big story of the weekend for the Cats offensively going 9-12 against Tigers pitching including five RBI.

The Cats are now 28-13 overall and 12-6 in the SEC and hold a two game lead over Florida in the SEC East.

Up next for the Cats is a matchup with Xavier at Cliff Hagan Stadium on Wednesday to kick off another big week for UK.