Bat Cats fall to Middle Tennessee State

By Mitch Deal

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­The UK baseball team hosted its second home game in a row Wednesday when Middle Tennessee State traveled to Lexington. The Cats came up short in a close game with the Blue Raiders, resulting in 9-4 loss. It was the Cats’ first loss at home this season.

In a three-all tie heading into the eighth inning, the UK bullpen was unable to put away MTSU, allowing six runs in the inning. Reliever Trevor Gott replaced fellow reliever Alex Phillips on the mound with no one out in the inning and allowed five runs to score while recording only two outs. Walter Wijas came in to record the third out for UK, but not before Gott and Phillips let MTSU score six runs on four hits. All six runs were unearned.

“The key to the six-run inning is the inability to play it a pitch at a time once we get to two strikes with two outs,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said. “The game speeds up, the ball comes up, and that’s what it is. To be a good team and win close games, we have to be able to maintain our poise and keep the ball down.”

The Bat Cats could not seem to find the same offensive stroke they found the day before against Eastern Kentucky. The Cats finished with nine hits in the poor weather, but displayed even poorer situational hitting.

“That’s baseball,” senior shortstop Taylor Black said. “We were hitting the ball hard all day. If you look at the box score it doesn’t look like we played as hard as we really did. We were hitting the ball all over the place; the wind was blowing in a little bit, so we didn’t really get as many breaks as we did last night. But that’s just baseball.”

Freshman pitcher Jonathan Paquet had his second career start and his first start at home yesterday. He ended up striking out five players and allowed two runs on four hits in the four innings he pitched. He received a no-decision for the game.

“He threw really well,” Black said. “He was awesome. He was down in the zone. He had a lot of strikeouts early and he was getting some weak contact. They had a couple weak hits fall early and we didn’t, and I think that’s the reason he couldn’t last.”

UK will look to rebound this weekend when it hosts a three-game series against Niagara Friday through Sunday.

“All losses are tough,” Henderson said. “What this does is it illustrates that we still have some work to do out of the bullpen, and we have got to be able to put somebody away coming out of the bullpen.

There’s no real mystery; we’re not wondering what the issue is making a pitch when we need it to make an out. And when we get that figured out … we are going to have a chance to win some games.”