Cats pick up much-needed series win over South Carolina


Sophomore pitcher Kyle Cody celebrates the win following the game between the University of Kentucky baseball team vs. University of Louisville at Jim Patterson Stadium in Louisville, Ky.,on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Photo by Michael Reaves

Chris Angolia

UK baseball picked up a huge series victory this past weekend defeating the No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks.

After dropping game one Friday, 10-5, the struggling Cats knew that they needed to respond on Saturday.

The Cats were able to do just that thanks to a brilliant performance on the mound by Dustin Beggs on Saturday. Beggs tossed the first complete game shutout of his career allowing just three hits and fanning seven in the 6-0 victory.

Beggs continued his stellar season and he now sits at 8-1 on the year with a 2.50 ERA and 70 strikeouts over 86.1 innings pitched. Perhaps the best stat for Beggs this year is that over his 86.1 innings of work. He has also shown remarkable command by only walking 14 hitters.

In the win, Tristan Pompey belted his fifth homer of the year, and Kole Cottam picked up a pair of RBI against Gamecock pitcher Braden Webb.

With the win Saturday, the importance of game three grew for UK because of the major opportunity that the game provided. Already victorious in a series over No. 1 Florida, the Cats could really make a push for the tournament with a series win over the No. 7 Gamecocks.

Kyle Cody got the start for UK in game three and delivered an extremely resilient performance facing numerous difficult situations, but when it was all said and done for the senior he had only allowed two runs over 5.2 innings of work.

Cody left the game with the Cats nursing a 3-1 lead thanks to a two-run homer by JaVon Shelby, his conference leading 11th of the year. The Gamecocks would then respond with one run in three straight innings to take a 4-3 lead in the eighth.

UK tied the game on a solo shot by Zach Reks in the bottom of the eighth and after both teams went scoreless in the ninth, the game was headed to extras.

Resiliency, especially on the mound, was a common theme for the Cats in game three. Along with Cody, Sean Hjelle showed some resilience. When the Gamecocks put the first two runners on in the 11th, Hjelle responded with back to back strikeouts and with the bases loaded before striking out the final hitter of the inning as well.

With the game tied 4-4 in the 12th, Dorian Hairston led off the inning for UK and took a 2-1 pitch over the right field wall giving the Cats a 5-4 victory.

The win marks UK’s second series win over a top-10 opponent, and at this stage of the season, the victory is massive for the Cats’ tournament hopes especially with recent struggles.

“It’s a big motivation boost,” Hjelle said. “We really needed the series win and I think from here on out, were going to keep going forward, and keep on the gas.”

UK will look to continue its success on Tuesday when it travels to 2015 NCAA Tournament participant Indiana. The game is set for 6 p.m. at Bart Kaufman Field in Bloomington.