The Kentucky offense continued to pulverize baseballs and a pair of true freshmen pitchers extricated the club from trouble late in the game, driving a 10-4 victory over Louisiana in the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park.
The No. 7 Wildcats (11-1) feel mighty comfortable in the Lone Star State, sweeping through the weekend to make it six straight wins in the state, five of those against ranked teams. The relentless offense scored 31 runs on 39 hits over the weekend, capping the tour de force with another 10 runs on Sunday.
UK twice erased deficits by immediately responding in the bottom half of the inning after the Ragin’ Cajuns scored in the top half and poured it on late to head back to the Commonwealth with the best start to a season since the 2013 team also went 11-1.
T.J. Collett and Luke Heyer bashed baseballs like they had a vendetta against the cowhide all weekend, combing to hit .609 with 10 runs scored, 11 RBI, four doubles and five home runs. The two went 8-for-10 on Sunday with Collett hitting a pair of doubles and a tape-measure home run and Heyer a ground rule double and three other rockets.
Justin Lewis was strong for six innings before getting into a bit of trouble in the seventh when the Ragin Cajuns’ loaded the bases with one out trailing by three. Freshman lefty Mason Hazelwood entered and induced an RBI groundout and freshman right Jimmy Ramsey got a fly out to end the inning and Louisiana’s final scoring threat.
The Cats had a scary moment when junior outfielder tried to check his swing but was hit in the face by a pitch and exited the game. Johnson was tended to by team trainers, as well as the Astros’ medical staff, and received stitches in his lip but was otherwise unharmed.
Top 2nd – Hunter Kasuls hit by pitch. Monroe Moll singled in the infield, moving Kasuls to second. Both runners moved up on SAC bunt by Jonathan Windham. Hayden Cantrelle hit SAC fly to CF, scoring Kasuls. Louisiana 1, UK 0.
Bottom 2nd – T.J. Collett and Luke Heyer singled to CF. Ryan Johnson hit into a fielder’s choice with Collett out at third. Ryan Shinn tripled into the RCF gap, scoring Heyer and Johnson. UK 2, Louisiana 1.
Top 6th – Daniel Lahare had an infield single and moved to third on a two-base throwing error. Lahare scored on a passed ball. Kennon Fontenot doubled inside third base line and scored on Moll’s single through the middle. Louisiana 3, UK 2.
Bottom 6th – Collett homered to RF. Heyer hit ground rule double to CF and scored on Johnson’s single up the middle. Tristan Pompey hit a pinch hit double to LF, advancing Johnson to third. Cam Hill pinch ran for Pompey. Troy Squires was hit by a pitch. Ben Aklinski drew a bases loaded walk to score Johnson. Luke Becker hit SAC fly to score Hill. UK 6, Louisiana 3.
Top 7th – Cantrelle singled to RF and moved to second on Kole McKinnon’s walk. Gavin Bourgeois reached on infield single to 3B to load the bases. Lahare grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Cantrelle. UK 6, Louisiana 4.
Bottom 7th – Collett doubled to RF and moved to third on Heyer’s long fly ball. Zeke Lewis, hitting for Johnson mid-at bat after Johnson was hit in face on pitch he swung at, singled to RF, scoring Collett. UK 7, Louisiana 4.
Bottom 8th – Aklinski singled, Becker walked and Kole Cottam reached on an error to load the bases. Collett doubled to deep LCF to score Aklinski and Becker. Heyer singled to RF to score Cottam. UK 10, Louisiana 4.
Kentucky returns home for a six-game homestand that begins Tuesday, March 6 against Eastern Kentucky. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. and it will be aired on SECN+.
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