All season long the MO of the no. 16 Kentucky Wildcats has been their microwave offense and stonewall relief pitching. It was no different last night at Cliff Hagan Stadium. A seven-run 5th inning and 4.1 innings of splendid tossing from junior Brad Schaenzer aided the Bat Cats as they rallied to defeat the visiting Cincinnati Bearcats 13-7 to improve 19-7 on the year.
Kentucky entered the 5th down two runs, 6-4. Zack Reks led off the inning and was hit by a pitch. He advanced to second base after a Luke Becker single. After Riley Mahan lined out, Cole Kottam loaded the bases after being the second Wildcat to draw a bean ball during the inning. With the stage set, Tristan Pompey smacked a single and drove Reks home. Troy Squires drew a walk which allowed Becker to score. Connor Heady took a hit by pitch for the team and opened the door for Kottam to trot across the plate. Marcus Carson and Evan White’s respective RBI single brought in two more runs. White scored the final run of the rally to put Uk ahead 11-7.
Things did not start smoothly for the Cats under starter Zack Thompson’s watch. A walk, a double, and a runner aboard thanks to catcher interference put Thompson in a jam early. He fell behind on a 3-1 count to Ryan Noda and saw his fifth offering of the at-bat sail over the fence for a grand slam that put the Bearcats ahead 4-0. Thompson settled down the next inning and appeared to find his groove, but a double in the top of the 3rd proved to be enough to send him to the showers after only two full innings of work. He allowed five hits, four earned runs, struck out a batter and walked another.
Thompson got help from his teammates the inning prior. Tristan Pompey and Connor Heady each swatted RBI doubles to bring the Cats to within one run of UC, 4-3.
Besides allowing Noda’s second dinger of the game, Schaenzer proved to be the rock for Kentucky on this day. In 4 and 1/3rd innings pitched he only allowed two hits, gave up a walk and a run, and struck out three batters to improve his record to 4-0 on the year.
Colton Cleary, a Cincinnati transfer, and Zach Pop combined to strike out six batters during the final frames to seal the win for UK.
The Cats added two insurance runs in the bottom of the 8th thanks to pitching and fielding blunders by the visitors.
Carson finished as the top batsman for the blue and white, going 3-of-5 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored. Pompey finished 2-of-3 at the plate with three RBI. Heady finished 2-of-3 as well with two notches in the RBI column. Luke Becker also finished 2-of-3 with a lone RBI to his credit.
Kentucky kicks off a three-game home series against conference foe Vanderbilt this Friday at 6:30 P.M.