Cowgill’s blasts help Cohen break the 300-win plateau

By Matthew George

As much as UK head coach John Cohen has given to him throughout his career, junior center fielder Collin Cowgill decided it was time to give something back.

Cowgill belted two solo home runs, part of a 3-for-4 effort that propelled the No. 10 UK baseball team past Western Kentucky 7-3 last night at Cliff Hagan Stadium. More importantly, the senior’s effort helped set a milestone — it fueled Cohen’s 300th career win.

“We really wouldn’t have the success we’ve been having without coach helping us out with our swings and really just our mindset at the plate, you know he gives us a lot of confidence,” Cowgill said. “I’m really happy for him and he deserves it.”

Of Cohen’s 300 victories, 154 have come with the Cats (23-4, 5-4 Southeastern Conference). In his fifth season as head coach, Cohen has already helped rewrite the baseball program’s history books, shattering a plethora of school records during his short stint. Cowgill found it fitting that Cohen finally enjoy a milestone all to himself.

“As hard as he works for us and as much as he does for us on and off the field, he really deserves it, and (his win total) is only going to keep going up,” Cowgill said.

A season-best crowd of 2,549 fans turned out to witness the achievement, which Cohen downplayed after the game.

“Oh, is that right?” Cohen said when asked about his 300th win. “I didn’t even know that. God’s honest truth, I had no idea.”

But he said the mark did mean something to him.

“It mean’s I’m getting older,” Cohen said. “That’s all it means. All those numbers just mean you’re just getting a little bit older.”

Sophomore left fielder Troy Frazier found it surreal facing such a familiar foe last night. The sophomore, who transferred to UK in the offseason after leading WKU (15-11, 3-6 Sun Belt) with a .327 batting average as freshman last season, squared off against his old club for the first time.

“It felt a little weird playing against all my best friends from last year,” Frazier said.

Though Frazier was 0-for-3 on the day, he finished with an RBI and said he was satisfied with the win, which gave him bragging rights over his former club.

“That’s the most important thing for us to do is get the team win,” Frazier said. “Anytime we can do that, it’s a good day.”

UK took a 2-0 lead in the first on an RBI double from senior designated hitter Sawyer Carroll and a sacrifice fly from Frazier. The Cats never looked back, methodically stretching their lead to the 7-3 final score.

Carroll finished 2-for-4 with a game-high three RBIs.

Cowgill’s first homer, belted in the fourth inning, cleared the scoreboard in left-center field. The ball was hit so hard, it cracked his aluminum bat, which made Cowgill doubt whether or not it would leave the yard.

“I’ve seen it happen,” Cowgill said. “A guy hits the ball right off the barrel and the bat breaks and ball just doesn’t go anywhere. I guess the wind was blowing out just enough to let it go.”

His second shot, a towering solo blast to left, led off the seventh inning. Cowgill’s second multi-home run game of the season gives him a team-high 10 long balls this year.

Employing a pitcher-by-committee approach, five UK hurlers combined to fan seven WKU hitters and allow three runs on 10 hits. Senior Aaron Lovett was credited with the win.

The defense turned a season-high four double plays to support the Cats’ arms.

UK remains a perfect 18-0 when playing in the friendly confines of Cliff Hagan Stadium, a mark the team hopes to extend in this weekend’s three-game series against visiting Mississippi State.