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Justin Lewis eyeing next road to Omaha, not MLB

Lewis returns to UK after the Rays spent a high draft pick on him.

Chet White/UK Athletics

After being picked in the 11th round of this year’s MLB draft, Kentucky Wildcats’ pitcher Justin Lewis looked like he’d soon be playing for the Tampa Bay Rays. In fact, it was reportedly expected.

But Lewis had another plan in mind, one that had Wildcats head coach Nick Mingione “screaming through the phone this morning,” according to writer Derek Terry.

He’ll be wearing Kentucky blue next year after all.

Lewis helped take the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament’s super regional for the first time in program history, before intrastate foe Louisville prevented a run to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

The right-handed pitcher finished his sophomore season with a 3.56 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 92 innings.

For Lewis, there’s always next year’s draft, and staying another year at Kentucky will allow him to finish his degree, something he told Cats Illustrated would make his late father proud.

He’ll remain alongside SEC Pitcher of the Year Sean Hjelle and Selma, Indiana, native Zack Thompson, who both are set to return.