UK Baseball open Buffalo series with 5-1 win

Kentucky vs. Austin Peay at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington, Ky. on Wednesday, March 2, 2016. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff.

Chris Angolia

UK baseball started its weekend series with the Buffalo Bulls on the right foot, picking up a 5-1 victory Friday.

Junior right hander Zack Brown, who has struggled in his first two Friday starts, got the start on Friday and was able to get back on track against the Bulls. Brown pitched seven innings, allowing just one unearned run and giving up just three hits. Brown also struck out six over his seven innings of work.

The Cats got on the board early in the first after Evan White belted his first homer of the year with one out, giving the Cats the early 1-0 lead.

Buffalo immediately responded and after putting men on second and third with no out, and the Bulls were able to push a run across on an error by shortstop Riley Mahan in the second inning.

The Cats reclaimed the lead almost immediately.

In the bottom half of the inning, Luke Becker singled with one out, moved to second on a balk and moved to third on a Marcus Carson fielder’s choice. Troy Squires followed Carson by hitting a groundball to the shortstop that was misplayed and Becker was able to score giving the Cats the 2-1 lead.

In the fourth, the Bulls were able to cause trouble by loading the bases with one out, but Brown was able to work out of the jam by striking out one and then getting the final batter of the inning to ground out, keeping the Cats lead at 2-1.

The Cats plated another in the fourth after Becker led off with a double and then advanced to third on a fly out by Carson. Becker came across on a past-ball with one out bringing the Cats lead to 3-1.

Later, in the sixth, Riley Mahan and Becker led off the inning with back-to-back singles and with runners on the corners. Carson flied out to left scoring Mahan, giving the Cats a 4-1 lead.

After Brown set the Bulls down in order in the top of the seventh, White led off the bottom half of the inning with a single. He then stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and then scored on an RBI sacrifice fly by Tristan Pompey.

Brad Schaenzer came on to replace Brown in the eighth and worked around a leadoff walk to get the final three outs of the inning. In the ninth, Bo Wilson came on and retired the Bulls in order to give the Cats the 5-1 victory.

“It was good, I just needed to put up a lot of zeros tonight and just get that confidence back, that’s what I needed. I needed a bunch of zeros and just to get back in the groove of things like I was last year,” Brown said regarding his performance. “It’s nice to come back home and get that first win under my belt.”

Evan White led the Cats offensively going three for five with an RBI and two runs scored and his homer in the first was a key jumpstart for the Cats’ offense.

“Evan just set a tone from the very first inning that were going to score runs tonight, and no matter which way we scored them — we had a couple hustle plays, sac flies, anything like that — a run means a lot to this team,” Brown said.

The Cats (5-3) are back in action Saturday against the Bulls in the second of three games to be played this weekend at The Cliff.