Cats take game 2, set up rubber match with Gators


Junior infielder Javon Shelby (5) hits the ball during the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won the game 8-4. Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Staff

Chris Angolia

UK baseball rebounded after its loss Friday with a 7-4 victory Saturday over No. 1 Florida, snapping the Gators 17 game winning streak.

Heading into game two, much was made of the pitching matchup between undefeated Cats starter Dustin Beggs and Gators starter, and top-five prospect, A.J. Puk.

Beggs picked up the victory for the Cats going 5.2 innings, allowing four runs on eight hits, while adding three strikeouts. Beggs set a UK baseball record by becoming the first pitcher in UK history to win his first six starts.

The Cats jumped on Puk early when Evan White belted his second homer of the year in the first giving the Cats the early 1-0 lead in the first inning.

White was able to get the better of Puk on Saturday, and along with the homer, he was able to work a walk and his single in the fifth eventually chased the Gators ace. White’s homer extended his hitting streak to 15 games, and his 3-3 day at the plate increased his average to .408 on the year.

“Feels really good, I think we’re all comfortable in the box right now and were feeling confident about bouncing back from yesterday,” White said about the win. “(Puk) is a very good pitcher and just stay simple stay short and if he makes a mistake don’t miss it.”

Dorian Hairston was also a big contributor for UK with his three-run homer in the fourth giving the Cats a 4-1 lead, a lead which they would not relinquish.

The Cats added three more in the fifth after JaVon Shelby and Gunnar McNeill each picked up RBIs giving the Cats a 7-1 lead. McNeill’s 2-RBI double increased his hitting streak to 17 games and increased his team lead in RBI.

The Gators were able to chase Beggs in the sixth with three runs, but Justin Lewis came on in relief and was able to hold the Gators scoreless over the last three innings giving the Cats the 7-4 victory. Lewis has been a big boost for UK out of the bullpen this year picking up his fourth save of the year.

“He’s done a really good job for us,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said of Lewis. “He’s one of the guys that when you look at him, it looks like he thinks his going to get people out.”

The Cats now turn their attention to game three where Kyle Cody will get the ball in the rubber match of the series for UK. Gators sophomore Alex Faedo will get the start opposite Cody. The matchup on Sunday will see either the Cats or Gators improve to 2-1 in SEC play, and with the win Saturday, the Cats are feeling confident heading into the rubber match.

 “It would be awesome, starting our season off on the right foot — if were able to continue against a very good team like Florida it would be a huge confidence booster,” White said regarding the significance of a series victory. “We feel good we feel like we can beat this team (Florida), they are one of the best teams in the country but we feel like we are ourselves.”

The rubber match of the series is set to kick off at 1 p.m. Sunday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.