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Kentucky Baseball Battered in Super Regional Opener

The Cats fall in Game 1 after the bats went cold for far too long.

UK Athletics

In game one of the Super Regional, Kentucky's scoring machine sputtered in the River City in a 5-2 loss to archrival Louisville thanks to an unexpected beauty on the mound.

The heart of the Wildcats lineup went a combined 3-of-19 at the plate. Kentucky did not score until the top of the ninth thanks to an Evan White homerun (Troy Marshall brought Riley Mahan home later in the inning) and left two runners on base when pinch-hitter T.J. Collet struck out swinging to end the game.

However, the problems for UK started much earlier in the game, all the way in the first inning.

Freshman lefty, Zack Thompson (8-3) gave up a double to the first batter he faced, Lexington native Logan Taylor. After a strikeout, Thompson gave up another hit, this time a single that drove Taylor home, which brought up the ever-dangerous Brendan McKay. Two pitches into the at-bat, Thompson beaned McKay to put two runners on board. Then a throwing error to second base advanced the runners. The Cards scored during the next at-bat after catcher interference, which did Thompson a favor Louisville traded a run for an out, and in the process kept the bases from being loaded. Thompson forced a groundout to end the inning, and the Cats were lucky to escape being down by only two runs.

Thompson settled down over the next two and a half innings and retired eight of the next nine batters he faced. However, he had trouble getting out of the bottom of the fourth inning. Two walks and a single loaded the bases for the Cards, setting up a crucial at-bat against Jason Snider. However, Thompson battled back from a 2-0 count to strike Snider out and end the threat.

Chris Machamer came out of the bullpen to relieve Thompson in the bottom of the fifth. Despite the rocky start, Thompson allowed only one earned run, gave up two hits, and struck out six batters against three walks.

Meanwhile, Kentucky's vaunted offense struggled to put together another semblance of offensive momentum against Cards starter Kade McClure (8-3). The 6'7 right-hander left-hander retired almost every Wildcat he faced his first time through the order. Only a throwing error in the first inning put a man on base, which the Cats stranded ninety feet from the plate, and an Evan White single were the blemishes on the McClure's first four innings of work.

McClure's gem ended after 5.1 innings of work. He walked one, struck out six, and did not yield a run to the top offense in the Southeastern Conference.

Kentucky finally got two runners on base in the top of the fifth after back-to-back singles from Kole Cottam and Tyler Marshall. Marcus Carson hit into a fielder's choice that the Cards flipped to third to get Cottam out. Then Carson broke late on a wild pitch and was thrown out at second. Connor Heady struck out to end the inning and give the Cats yet another wasted opportunity.

Machamer did not even last the entire fifth inning. He walked Taylor, who stole second base and struck out one before throwing another two balls with a runner in scoring position. That was enough to earn him the hook, and Zach Logue trotted out to try and salvage the inning.

Logue completed the unfinished walk but forced McKay to pop out deep into the outfield, which unfortunately allowed both runners to advance. With Louisville's other clean up man, Drew Ellis at the plate, Logue threw a few balls into the dirt but battle his way back to a 3-2 count, and on the biggest pitch of the game, Ellis launched a no-doubt bomb to put the Cards up 5-0.

Brad Schanzer came out to close the game in the bottom of the sixth and finally cooled off the Cards. He threw three scoreless, hitless innings without a walk: in short perfection. Schanzer also struck out a batter.

Evan White ended up being the bigger hitter for the Cats. His 2-of-4 day included his home above run and a RBI. Troy Marshall also went 2-of-4 with a RBI. Riley Mahan, Kole Cottam, and Connor Heady also had hits.

The Cards Drew Ellis only had a single hit in four tries, but his homer and RBI groundout gave him four runs knocked in on the day.