Burns’ home runs power UK past Morehead State, 5-2



It may have taken six UK pitchers to finish off the Morehead State lineup, but it only took one Cat to add pop to UK’s offense.

Sophomore third baseman Andy Burns went 3-for-4, blasting his second and third home runs of the season to lead UK (7-0) to a 5-2 victory over the Eagles on Tuesday at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Burns also added a stolen base in the effort, his second of the season.

Burns entered the game hitting just .182 on the season, but raised his average  to .333 in the game.

“It’s definitely a confidence booster,” Burns said. “I’ve been working overtime, just trying to figure working overtime, just trying to figure some things out and it finally clicked for me today, which feels good. But I’m not going to stop working. Once you get complacent in this game, that’s when you start getting beat again.”

Both of Burns’ homers came to lead off the inning for the Cats, and both were rocketed to nearly identical spots over the left field wall.

“I was really pleased to see him loose and aggressive,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said. “I thought that was the difference. He wasn’t jumping, he let the ball travel.”

The Cats opened the game with three runs in the bottom of the first, and never relinquished the lead. By the time Morehead scored its first run, UK had already built a 5-0 lead and the Eagles were running out of time for a comeback.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Sean Bouthilette made his first start of the season, but Henderson pulled him after giving up five hits in 2.1 innings. The UK bullpen pieced together the next 6.2 innings, giving up just two runs the rest of the way.

Even more encouraging, the bullpen didn’t give up a single walk despite pitching the majority of the game. The five UK relievers scattered seven hits before junior right-handed pitcher Matt Little slammed the door on the Eagles. Little struck out two in the ninth to earn his third save on the season.

“We’ll give up fewer hits as the season gets going,” Henderson said. “You’re never really excited about more hits than innings, but the walks is what I’m really interested in, not walking them.”

Henderson said he entered the game planning on using at least six pitchers, and was especially pleased with the bullpen’s performance considering he used a pair of freshmen early in the game. Little said while many people might not consider the bullpen a strength of the team yet, that should change as the season goes on.

“That was the main goal for this year compared to last year,” Little said. “I think we’re a lot deeper bullpen-wise. I think a lot more guys are buying into Coach Henderson’s plan and keeping the ball down in the zone. That way our defense isn’t on its heels.”