Cats’ bats sweep Bulldogs

By Matthew George

Three Cats homered and senior starting hurler Greg Dombrowski pitched five scoreless innings to lead the No. 17 UK baseball team to a 12-4 victory over Butler yesterday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The win completed a four-game weekend sweep of the Bulldogs, as the Cats improve to 9-0 on the young season. UK blistered Butler pitching on the way to outscoring the Bulldogs 61-7 in the series.

Sophomore catcher Marcus Nidiffer got the scoring started yesterday with a second-inning home run. The two-run shot, Nidiffer’s first of the season, helped propel the Cats to an 8-0 lead after five innings of play.

“Big inning,” Nidiffer said about the second. “We got a few runs on the board, and that kind of sparked some things for us. It got our bats going, and we just went from there.”

Dombrowski pitched five complete innings of shutout baseball, allowing just three hits and no walks while striking out five Bulldog batters in his second win of the season.

But the bullpen couldn’t pick up where Dombrowski left off. The Cats maintained an 8-0 lead at the time of his departure, a margin the Bulldogs quickly cut in half.

In the sixth, Butler (0-4) rallied with four runs, all charged to senior reliever Tommy Warner, cutting UK’s lead to four. But sophomore Clint Tilford, senior Brock Baber and senior Tyler Howe made sure the Bulldogs would get no closer. The trio combined to throw the final 3.1 innings and yielded just two hits.

“We really wanted those four guys to pitch,” UK head coach John Cohen said.

“If you don’t pitch them there, then you’re going all the way to Wednesday before any of those guys can pitch again,” he said.

Senior right fielder Sawyer Carroll answered in the bottom of the sixth, belting his fifth home run of the season to cushion the lead to 10-4.

“I knew he was going to come with an offspeed pitch,” Carroll said. “He threw a changeup and left it up a little bit, and I got it pretty good.”

In the eighth, senior first baseman Brian Spear added a solo home run, his first of the year, to help produce the final score.

Carroll finished 3-for-4 with the two-run home run and an RBI triple. Through nine games, the senior is batting .600 and slugging 1.333 with 23 RBIs. His five home runs are a team high, and two more than he hit all of last year.

Senior second baseman Ryan Wilkes added three RBIs on a 3-for-3 day at the plate.

UK has scored 10 or more runs in each of its nine games this season and is winning by an average margin of 11.1 runs.

The Cats defeated Butler 14-1 Friday, and 14-0 and 21-2 in a doubleheader Saturday.

“We played pretty well this weekend,” Carroll said. “There’s not a whole lot else you can say.”

UK played without starting third baseman Chris McClendon. The junior pulled his hamstring in Friday’s game. Cohen said he is hopeful that McClendon will be able to play by this weekend’s series against Purdue.

Junior third baseman Spencer Korus was also unavailable because of illness.

“We need those two guys in our infield, because they really defend, and both of them are going to hit,” Cohen said.