LEXINGTON, Ky. – Justin Lewis had a perfect game through seven innings of Kentucky’s sweep-clinching 12-1 win against No. 23 UC Santa Barbara on an ideal Sunday at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The win completed a perfect 5-0 home-opening week for the Wildcats.
This weekend’s sweep is Kentucky’s first over a ranked opponent since the Wildcats swept No. 2 South Carolina on March 16-18, 2012. The Cats are now 7-5 overall and have won seven of their past eight games.
Standing 6-foot-7, the redshirt sophomore right-hander went eight innings, racked up a career-high eight strikeouts and gave up just one hit – a solo home run in the top of the eighth to Austin Bush. In his last two starts, Lewis as given up just one run on three hits, one walk, and struck out 12.
“I didn’t really think about (the perfect game) until the sixth inning,” Lewis said. “I was down 3-0 or 3-1 to a guy and came back and struck him out. I started thinking that no one had been on base because I hadn’t pitched out of the stretch at all.”
“This whole week has been really special,” UK coach Nick Mingione said. “I feel really good about our starting pitching and the guys out of the bullpen have done a good job as well. I think guys are starting to get more comfortable, especially offensively.”
Tristian Pompey took control of the game from the outset. The sophomore outfielder went 3-of-4 at the plate with two RBI and one run, giving him his second multi-RBI game of the season and tenth of his career. Sunday’s 12-run outburst completed a week where the Cats outscored five opponents 46-6. Junior infielder Riley Mahan continued his hot hitting, piling up six extra-base hits and 11 RBI this week, while senior infielder Connor Heady set a new career-high in Sunday’s rout with three RBI.
UK’s weekend starters against UCSB combined to throw 22.1 innings, giving up 11 hits, two runs, three walks, and struck out 19. For the weekend, the pitching staff struck out 26 batters, 24 of which were swinging.
AT THE PLATE
Kentucky’s bats were scorching all game. The Wildcats piled up 13 hits and 11 RBI in another impressive performance at the plate. Eight of nine starters had a hit, and the Cats pounded out five extra-base hits – including four doubles in the sixth inning. Junior preseason All-American Evan White hit his third home run of the home stand, and Pompey led the way with three hits.
ON THE MOUND
Lewis’ dominance started early on the mound after he struck out two of the first three batters in the game. He added one strikeout in the second inning and started the third with two more. The defense had the Suwanee, Ga., native’s back in the fourth and fifth innings, retiring five straight with ease before Lewis struck out Tommy Jew to end the fifth. UCSB’s Austin Bush’s solo home run in the eight was the only blemish of the day for Lewis. Chris Machamer took to the mound in the ninth inning and closed out the Gauchos with the help of a game-ending double play from his defense.
Bottom 1st – Evan White struck early for Kentucky, crushing a solo home run over the left-centerfield wall on the second pitch of his at bat. UK 1, UCSB 0
Bottom 2nd – Luke Becker, the leadoff batter, was walked and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt from Troy Squires. Following Squires’ at bat, Connor Heady and Evan White were both put on base after being hit by a pitch and walked. With the bases loaded and two outs, Zach Reks smoked a liner between the shortstop and third baseman, scoring Becker from third and Heady from second. Kole Cottam singled on another liner between the third baseman and shortstop, scoring White from second base. Tristian Pompey made the Gauchos left side of the infield pay again with another shot through the gap, which drove in Reks from second base for Kentucky’s final run of the half inning. UK 5, UCSB 0
Bottom 4th – Cottam reached first base on a fielding error from the third baseman, moved to third on a single from Pompey, then finally scored on an errant throw from the pitcher to first base. Mahan singled, advanced to third on a base hit from Becker, then later scored on a successful squeeze from Squires that also moved Becker to second base. Heady ripped a single to left centerfield, scoring Becker from second. UK 8, UCSB 0
Bottom 6th – Cottam doubled to lead off the half inning. Pompey drove in Cottam on a double to right-centerfield during the very next at bat for his second RBI of the game. Pompey was plated by Riley Mahan, who crushed the ball to the same spot that Pompey went for an RBI double. Following Mahan’s at bat, Becker was walked and replaced on base by pinch runner Zeke Lewis. Heady doubled off the leftfield wall for his career-high third RBI of the game, scoring Lewis and Mahan. UK 12, UCSB 0
Top 8th – Austin Bush ended Justin Lewis’ perfect game with a solo home run over the right-centerfield wall. UK 12, UCSB 1