UK wastes no time hammering Evansville; still undefeated after 10 games into season

By Matthew George

Not even 20 minutes into yesterday’s baseball game, the Cats had just about everything going their way.

Senior center fielder Collin Cowgill cracked a groundball in the first inning to Evansville third baseman Andy Smith, who gloved the ball and tagged out sophomore left fielder Keenan Wiley.

The play brought UK head coach John Cohen from his roost in the dugout. After an argument and a conference amongst Cohen and the umpiring crew, the umpires ruled that Smith had tagged Wiley with his glove, but held the baseball in his outstretched hand. Wiley was safe at third.

Though the play came in the first inning, it was indicative of how yesterday’s game would go for the Purple Aces. No. 9 UK (10-0) cashed in on five runs before Evansville pitcher Sean McCarthy could escape the inning, scored six more runs in the second and cruised to a 15-1 win at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

“Sometimes it takes a play like that for the game to kind of unfold,” Cowgill said. “That was a crucial out for them, to get the first out of the inning and still have a double play.”

“It’s tough to bounce back from that, especially early,” he said, “because now you have the bases loaded and you have the pitcher in a tough situation.”

The Purple Aces kept putting themselves in tough situations, committing three errors, beaming four UK hitters and throwing a wild pitch. But struggles like those are nothing new for the Purple Aces, who fell to 0-8 on the season.

Evansville has already committed 25 errors on the season, more than double UK’s total thus far.

UK showed little mercy. The offense continued to perform as it has all season. The Cats pounded out 15 total hits on their way to 15 runs, the team’s second-highest total this season.

Evansville managed a run against sophomore pitcher James Paxton in the third, but six relievers combined to shut out the Purple Aces the rest of the way.

It was the Cats’ defense that impressed Cohen the most, he said, adding that this was the best he had seen his team field it all year. The fielding effort was led by junior third baseman Spencer Korus, who made three consecutive diving plays in the fourth and fifth innings and added two RBIs at the offensive end.

“Spencer Korus looked like Brooks Robinson today,” Cohen said. “He just had a big-time day defensively and got a huge double down the right field line.”

Korus, who battled back into the lineup after a knee injury, was surprised by the action he saw at third.

“Pretty much all three of the balls were exactly the same,” Korus said. “I was sitting there after I caught the first one thinking there is no way they are going to hit another one there because they just hit two in a row in the same spot, but sure enough (they did).”

The two teams met last season at a time when both were considered on the bubble for an NCAA Regional bid. Evansville erased a three-run deficit against the Cats and won 5-4 on a walk-off single.

UK ultimately failed to make a regional.

“It was big last year,” said senior right fielder Sawyer Carroll, who finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs. “Maybe we would have got in if we had won that game, but we didn’t. But we can’t look back.”

But the Cats fed off the disappointment from that loss, Cohen said.

Using the contest as motivation, UK tallied another 10-plus run total, a feat they have accomplished in each of their 10 games this season.