Cats complete sweep of UCSB behind Lewis, Pompey

Pitcher Justin Lewis delivers a pitch during the game against the Buffalo Bulls at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington, Ky. on Sunday, March 6, 2016. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff.

By Chris Angolia

UK baseball completed its sweep of the No. 23 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos on Sunday with a 12-1 blowout of the 2016 CWS participant. The weekend sweep is UK’s first over a ranked opponent since the Cats swept South Carolina in March of 2012, and while it looked like the offense was the big story on Sunday, Justin Lewis’ performance on the mound was the headline.

Lewis was perfect through seven innings until a leadoff homer in the eighth spoiled his bid for the first UK no-hitter in 43 years.  Lewis’ eight innings of one run, one hit ball were highlighted by his eight strikeouts that left Gauchos hitters guessing all afternoon. In his last two starts, including Sunday’s, Lewis has allowed just one run and three hits over 15 innings of work.

“I just felt good,” Lewis said. “Beautiful day, just wanted to go out throw strikes and let my defense work, and just limit the walks which I did. I was very happy and pleased with the start.”

In his first full weekend of action, Evan White struggled in the first two games against the Gauchos but gave UK an early 1-0 lead with a no-doubt home run to left. White’s homerun did more than just get himself back on track, as it set the tone for the rest of the game.

On Sunday, all but one of UK’s batters recorded a hit, and four guys had multi-hit games including Tristan Pompey who came into the game hitting .231. However, Pompey’s .231 average only tells part of the story as he has had multiple great at-bats as well as hard hit balls that just happened to be right at defenders.

Coming into the season, Pompey was one of the guys that needed to contribute for the Cats to be successful. Pompey had the best day of any UK hitter on Sunday, going three for four with a double, two RBI and a run scored.   

“It feels amazing to finally find these holes,” Pompey said. “I have been hitting it right at people by now I found those holes and it took a little weight off of my chest.”

While Pompey and the offense had a big day on Sunday to round out the overall effort that UK put out to complete the sweep of one of the nation’s top programs. The pitching staff as a whole was the main highlight the weekend, as UK pitching held the Gauchos to just four runs in three games.

The sweep of UCSB, capped off a 5-0 week that brought UK’s record to 7-5 on the year and shows what the team can be when it is firing on all cylinders.

“If we can keep our starters doing a good job,” Lewis said. “Throwing strikes, limiting walks and the big inning, we can be a really good team because our offense is something special.”