LEXINGTON, Ky. – The firsts just keep piling up for No. 16 Kentucky, which knocked off No. 22 Vanderbilt 7-4 on Saturday to clinch the first series win over the always-strong Commodores since 2009. The Wildcats will go for their second sweep in the first three weekends of Southeastern Conference play on Sunday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The winning template was nearly identical to Friday night’s 10-3 victory in the series opener – put up a crooked number in the early innings to gain momentum and let the starting pitcher go to work with a lead. This time, the Cats (21-7, 7-1 SEC) scored five runs in the third inning – four coming with two outs – against highly-regarded pitching prospect Kyle Wright and two more in the fifth before cruising to their 21st win in the past 24 games.
The 7-1 start to league play is the best since the 1992 club also won seven of its first eight in the conference. Kentucky has now won 10 of its last 11 games against ranked competition, including all seven of its SEC victories.
For the second consecutive day the Cats worked a five-run inning out of the Vanderbilt starter, giving them an early cushion. Four of the runs scored with two outs on Luke Becker’s single, Riley Mahan’s triple off the left-centerfield wall and Kole Cottam’s two-run bases loaded single to left.
That was all junior lefty Zach Logue would need, as he dealt a career-high eight innings and tied a career-high with seven strikeouts, yielding only Preseason SEC Player of the Year Jeren Kendall’s solo home run in the eighth. Logue now owns the sixth-best career ERA in UK history at 3.16.
AT THE PLATE
Numerous Wildcats stepped up and contributed to UK’s powerful offensive performance, with eight of the hitters in the lineup recording an RBI and/or run scored. Kole Cottam went 2-of-4 at the plate with two RBI for his fourth multi-RBI game of the season and eighth of his career. Both Luke Becker and Tristan Pompey went 1-for-3 with two runs and one RBI. Zach Reks, Riley Mahan and Tyler Marshall all finished with one RBI each.
ON THE MOUND
Zach Logue got to work early in his sixth win of the season, striking out two of three batters he faced in the first inning. In posting a career-high eight innings the junior tied his career high in strikeouts (7) for the third time and gave up a single run that didn’t come until the eighth inning on Preseason SEC Player of the Year Jeren Kendall’s solo home run.
Bottom 3rd – With one out, Marcus Carson walked. Evan White then doubled down the left field line, which advanced Carson to third base. Zach Reks grounded out to the shortstop, but still picked up a RBI when Carson scored on the play. Luke Becker, the next batter, singled to left field and brought White home from second base. The Cats picked up their second two-out hit in the inning on an RBI triple from Riley Mahan that scored Becker. The next two Wildcats that stepped to the plate – Tristan Pompey and Tyler Marshall – were walked, which loaded the bases for Kole Cottam, who delivered a two-RBI single to left field. UK 5, VU 0.
Bot 5th – As the leadoff batter, Becker was walked, advanced to second on a passed ball, and later moved to third after Mahan grounded out to the first baseman. Pompey crushed a ball up the middle for a single, which brought Becker in to score. During Marshall’s at bat, Pompey stole second base and scored when the junior singled through the left side of the infield. UK 7, VU 0.
Top 8th – Jeren Kendall led off with a solo home run to right center field. UK 7, VU 1.
Top 9th – Ty Duvall started the inning with a single to right field and advanced to second base after Alonzo Jones singled through the left side of the infield. Kendall homered to right center field. UK 7, VU 4.