SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The No. 8 Kentucky baseball team battled persistent drizzle and a slow start to sweep a doubleheader at USC Upstate on Saturday, moving to 3-0 on opening weekend of the 2018 season.
The Wildcats erased an early 5-0 deficit in the first game, fighting back to claim a 6-5 victory in 10 innings against the host Spartans at Harley Park. There were no such heroics necessary in the nightcap of the twin bill as junior right-hander Justin Lewis dazzled in his season debut, giving up just two hits, no runs and striking out a career-high nine in six innings of work.
In the opener a pair of two-strike, two-out, two-run singles allowed Upstate to push across five runs in a third inning that also saw the Cats walk four batters. Relievers Brad Schaenzer and Jimmy Ramsey – making his collegiate debut – did not yield a run over the next 5.2 innings as UK methodically closed the gap.
The Cats drew even with a pair of runs in the eighth inning before scoring the winning run in the 10th when Luke Becker hit a leadoff double and came home on Kole Cottam’s two-out single back up the middle. Chris Machamer earned the win with two quick innings of work.
In the late game, UK jumped out to an early 2-0 lead before blowing the game open with a four-run sixth. Becker and T.J. Collett added no-doubt home runs in the eighth to add the icing on top of a long day of baseball.
SCORING – GAME 1
Bottom 3rd – Austin Morgan, Pat Raiff and Charlie Carpenter all walked. Jake Bourke singled to RF, scoring Morgan and Raiff. Kyle Gensler had an infield single to reload the bases. Will Hardigree walked, scoring Carpenter. Russ Schwertfeger blooped single into CF, scoring Bourke and Gensler. Upstate 5, UK 0.
Top 6th – Troy Squires hit by pitch. Luke Heyer pinch hit double into LF corner. Trey Dawson reached on throwing error by pitcher, Squires scored. Tristan Pompey grounded out to 1B, scoring Heyer. Upstate 5, UK 2.
Top 7th – Ben Aklinski homered to LF. Upstate 5, UK 3.
Top 8th – Pompey singled to start the inning. Aklinski was hit by a pitch. T.J. Collett pulled a single into RF, scoring Pompey. Kole Cottam grounded out the 3B, scoring Aklinski. UK 5, Upstate 5.
Top 10th – Luke Becker doubled to LCF and moved to third on Aklinski’s groundout. Cottam stroked a two-out single up the middle to score Becker. UK 6, Upstate 5.
SCORING – GAME 2
Top 2nd – Troy Squires reached on a fielding error and scored on Ryan Shinn’s double to LCF. Trey Dawson doubled to LF, scoring Shinn. UK 2, Upstate 0.
Top 4th – Squires hit by a pitch. Shinn walked. Both moved up a base on Dawson’s SAC bunt. Tristan Pompey grounded out, scoring Squires. UK 3, Upstate 0.
Top 6th – Pompey and Luke Becker walked. Ben Aklinski singled to load the bases. T.J. Collett walked to force in Pompey. Kole Cottam singled to RCF, scoring Becker and Aklinski. Luke Heyer singled to RF, scoring Collett from second. UK 7, Upstate 0.
Top 8th – Becker homered to RF. Aklinski doubled to LF and scored on Collett’s two-run homer to RF. UK 10, Upstate 0.
- This is Kentucky’s first 3-0 start since the 2013 season.
- Seven players made their Kentucky debut during the doubleheader: 1B Brayden Combs, C/INF Coltyn Kessler, OF Cam Hill, INF Alex Rodriguez, RHP Jimmy Ramsey, LHP Mason Hazelwood and RHP Crosby Bringhurst.
- Junior right-hander Justin Lewis started the second game of the doubleheader.
o Lewis allowed just two hits and no runs in 6.0 innings.
o He struck out a career-high nine hitters and did not walk anyone.
- Freshman RHP Jimmy Ramsey made his collegiate debut in game one.
o Ramsey pitched 2.2 hitless innings, walking one and striking out one.
- Junior OF Tristan Pompey
o Pompey extended his streak of reaching base safely to 40 games.
o Had a hit from both sides of the plate.
o He now has 135 career hits, good for 34th on the UK all-time list.
- Junior OF Ben Aklinski went 5-for-9 with three runs scored and an RBI on the day.
o He blasted his first career home run with a solo shot in game one.
- Senior C/1B Troy Squires reached base five times in the doubleheader.
o He was hit by three pitches on the day – two in game 1, one in game 2
o Squires has been hit by five pitches in the first three games and now 19 in his career.
- Sophomore infielder Zeke Lewis collected his first collegiate hit with a double to left field in the ninth inning of game one.
- Freshman outfielder Cam Hill laid down a perfect bunt in game one to record the first hit of his collegiate career. He also made a sterling diving catch in right field.
- Sophomore T.J. Collett had four RBI for the day.
o He smashed his first home run of the season and now counts two home runs among his four collegiate hits.