UK baseball sweeps UIC, move to 11-0



By: David Schuh

The UK baseball team took on the University of Illinois-Chicago in a three-game series this weekend at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

With the impending threat of severe weather on Friday afternoon, the opening game of the series was pushed to Saturday as part of a doubleheader.

UIC got on the board early on Saturday. A solo home run in the second inning off UK starter Taylor Rogers gave the Flames a 1-0 lead.

The Cats’ offense woke up in the fourth inning. Two walks to lead off the inning were followed by a bunt single by sophomore Matt Reida to load the bases with no outs.

Freshman Austin Cousino then grounded into a double play, scoring a run but thwarting an opportunity for a big inning.

UK struck again in the fifth. Sophomore J.T. Riddle singled and scored on an A.J. Reed double. Two batters later, Reed scored on a throwing error to make the score 3-1.

The Cats added an insurance run in the sixth and UIC scored in the seventh, but that’s as close as they would get, as UK won 4-3.

Rogers took his season record to 3-0, giving up two earned runs in five innings, while striking out a career-high 10 batters.

UIC again got out to an early lead in game two. Junior Nick Addison doubled, stole third and scored on a groundout by the ensuing batter.

But, the Cats exploded in the bottom of the third. Reida singled to lead off the inning. Cousino followed with a single and junior Zac Zellers reached base on a hit by pitch. Again, UK had bases loaded with no outs. But, unlike earlier in the day, this time they would take advantage.

Thomas McCarthy singled to left field to score Reida and Cousino. Three batters later, a sacrifice fly by Reed plated Zellers. An error by the UIC center fielder scored two more to propel UK to an early 5-1 lead.

The Flames scored another run in the top of the fourth, but the Cats would distance themselves even further in the seventh.

Cousino led off with a bunt single. McCarthy was intentionally walked two batters later to bring junior Luke Maile to the plate.

Maile took advantage, doubling into the left-center field gap to score Cousino. Reed then singled up the middle to score McCarthy and Maile and bring the score to 8-2, the eventual final score.

Junior Jerad Grundy got the win on the mound, his second of the year. He gave up one earned run in seven innings, striking out nine.

“The starters are giving us really good starts,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said. “They’re pounding the strike zone and keeping the walks to a minimum.”

Sunday’s series finale was all UK from the start.

Cousino walked to lead off the first and stole second on the next pitch. Zellers reached on a hit by pitch and McCarthy lined out to bring Maile to the plate.

The junior converted again, singling into right field to score Cousino. Zellers then scored on a sacrifice fly by Riddle to make the score 2-0.

After adding another in the first, Cousino hit a two-out single in the second and Zellers followed with a line drive home run over the left field fence. The Cats led 5-0 after two.

UK added six in the third, two in the sixth and seventh and five in the eighth, cruising to a 20-0 victory.

Corey Littrell threw six shutout innings and struck out seven to pick up his second win of the season.

The Cats 11-0 record is the best start since 2008. Cousino continued his hot start, going 7-14 with five runs scored on the weekend.

“I’m just doing the little things,” Cousino said. “I’m seeing the ball well out of the hand and squaring up. I’m not going to switch anything up right now.”

While it’s still early in the season, UK is one of three undefeated teams left in Division I. They’re tied for the best record in the country at 11-0.

The Cats next play Tennessee Tech at Cliff Hagan Stadium on Tuesday at 4 p.m.