Two-win day sets Kentucky up for winner-take-all game
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – There will be Monday baseball at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Top-seeded Kentucky forced another game in the Lexington Regional final with its 8-6 win over No. 3 seed NC State in front of 3,261 fans on a clear Sunday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium. It was the second do-or-die win of the day for the Wildcats, who again will face the Wolfpack on Monday night in a winner-take-all game to advance to the Super Regional in Louisville next week.
Monday’s game is set for 7 p.m. with NC State as the designated home team on the basis of having been the home team in fewer games during the regional.
The Cats (42-21) gave up two early runs in the second inning, but responded quickly in the bottom of the third when Connor Heady and Tristan Pompey crossed the plate on a one-out double from Zach Reks and a sacrifice fly from Kole Cottam. The Wolfpack tacked on another run in the top of the fourth inning, but Marcus Carson knotted the game back up in the bottom half of the inning with his second home run of the day.
Cottam barely missed another home run when he tripled off the top edge of the wall in right-centerfield. The sophomore catcher ended up scoring anyway when Riley Mahan singled, giving Mahan his 11th RBI in four regional games and the Wildcats their first lead of the game.
From there, the UK’s offense stayed steady and scored at least one run in each inning from the second through sixth. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Cats were still able to push across four runs with three hits and three walks. Pompey and Reks finished with three hits each, while Reks and Mahan drove in four runs combined.
Brad Schaenzer started on the mound for UK, providing four innings of work before Chris Machamer entered. The freshman right-hander from North Canton, Ohio, settled in, struck out the side in the sixth inning, and nabbed four strikeouts. Logan Salow took to the mound with one out in the seventh inning, and it was over from there as the senior retired all eight Wolfpack batters that he faced paired with four strikeouts, earning his team-record tying 12th save of the season.
Top 2nd – Will Wilson laid down a bunt for a single and Brett Kinneman walked. Andy Cosgrove doubled to LCF, scoring Wilson and Kinneman. NC State 2, UK 0.
Bot 3rd – Connor Heady and Tristan Pompey both singled to RF. Zach Reks singled, scoring Heady, and advanced to second base on a fielding error by the left fielder. Kole Cottam placed a SAC fly in CF, scoring Pompey from third base. UK 2, NC State 2.
Top 4th – Kinneman singled and Brock Deatherage tripled to LCF. NC State 3, UK 2.
Bot 4th – Marcus Carson homered to RCF. UK 3, NC State 3.
Bot 5th – Cottam tripled to RCF. Riley Mahan singled to RF, scoring Cottam. UK 4, NC State 3.
Bot 6th – Pompey doubled and Evan White walked. Reks singled up the middle, scoring Pompey and moving White to third base. Cottam walked to load the bases, and Mahan walked, bringing White across the plate. Luke Becker singled down the third-base line, which scored Reks, and Cottam scored on a wild pitch. UK 8, NC State 3.
Top 7th – Stephen Pitarra walked, Josh McLain hit into a fielder’s choice, and Joe Dunand homered to left-center field. UK 8, NC State 6.
• The Cats are now 17-17 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
• Kentucky now has 42 wins on the season, the sixth time in school history the Cats have reached 40 wins and first since the 2012 team won 45.
o The 41 victories are the fourth most in school history.
• Kentucky struck out nine NC State hitters in the game, extending its single-season record to 556 total strikeouts.
• UK is now 29-6 at Cliff Hagan Stadium, marking just the fifth time in UK history the Cats have won at least 25 games at home.
o The 29 wins tie the 2012 team for second most in a season at Cliff Hagan Stadium, two shy of the record 31 the 2006 team posted.
o The Cats are 19-1 at home vs. non-SEC foes.
• Senior LHP Logan Salow struck out four and did not allow a hit over the final 2.2 innings of the game, earning his 12th save of the season.
o The 12 saves tie him with Trevor Gott (2013) for the most in a single-season in UK history.
o Salow’s 16 career saves are second only to Gott’s 23 during his time at UK.
• Sophomore OF Tristan Pompey went 3-for-5 with two runs.
o He extended his reached base safely streak to 34 straight games.
o Pompey now has hit safely in 47 of his past 52 games.
o Pompey has 26 multi-hit games this season and 33 for his career.
o Pompey’s 94 hits this season are the third most for a UK player in a single season.
• Junior 1B Evan White went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.
o White now has 227 career hits, moving him into 7th on UK’s all-time list.
o Extended reached base safely streak to 27 of last 30 games.
• Senior OF Zach Reks went 3-for-5 with a run and two RBI.
o Reks has reached base safely in 32 of the last 33 games.
o Has a hit in 17 of the past 19 games.
o Reks has 26 multi-hit games this season and 37 for his career.
• Sophomore C Kole Cottam went 1-for-2 with a triple, two runs and an RBI.
o Cottam is 15-for-30 (.500) in the last nine games, including seven extra-base hits.
o Cottam is riding a career-long nine game hit streak.
• Junior IF Riley Mahan went 1-for-3 with two RBI.
o Mahan now has 17 multi-RBI games this season and 24 in his career.
o Mahan has 11 RBI in the regional.
o Mahan now has 67 RBI on the season, moving him into 6th on UK’s single-season list.
• Senior OF Marcus Carson went 2-for-4 with a solo home run and a double.
o It was Carson’s seventh home run of the season and second on the day.
o Carson now has 19 multi-hit games this season and 26 for his career.
• Senior SS Connor Heady went 2-for-3 with a run and a SAC bunt.
o Heady logged his 14th multi-hit game of the season and 20th of his career.
o Heady’s SAC bunt was his 15th of the season, the third most in a single-season for a UK player. His 21 career SACs ties him with Chad Wright (2009-11) for 9th on UK all-time list.
Kentucky will face NC State at 7 p.m. on Monday in a winner-take-all game to advance to the Super Regional in Louisville. The game can be heard on 630 AM and UKathletics.com. TV is to be determined.
*Note: The game photo that accompanies this story is courtesy of UK Athletics.