Troy Squires turned in a career day, including a three-run home run that proved critical, as No. 6 Kentucky claimed the heavyweight weekend series with an 11-6 win over No. 3 Texas Tech at Cliff Hagan Stadium. UK will go for a three-game sweep on Sunday.
For the second time in as many days the Wildcats erased an early deficit with a relentless offensive approach that resulted in a five-run sixth inning to break a tie game open. The inning featured three consecutive bunt hits that scored runs, a testament to the Cats’ ability to play long ball or small ball when called upon.
Squires led off the game with a line drive single, singled again in the second, drilled a no-doubt three-run home run in the fourth and bunted for a hit and RBI in the sixth. He matched his career high in both hits (four) and RBI (four), each set earlier this season. He has now reached base in all 16 games this season.
The senior led a charge that saw seven players record a hit and all nine starters reach base safely. The Cats also stole four bases, had two sacrifice flies, a hit batter and drew six walks. They have now scored 21 runs in two games against a pitching staff that entered the weekend with a team earned run average under 2.00.
Additionally, the Cats’ bullpen was tremendous over the final six innings. Freshman lefty Mason Hazelwood came on in the fourth and extricated the Cats out of a jam on his way to 2.1 impressive innings, while hard-throwing righties Zach Haake and Chris Machamer took care of the final 1.2 innings to give senior righty Alec Maley the win.
The two teams will return to the field Sunday at 1 p.m. to close out the measuring stick series with the game set to be streamed on SECN+.
Bottom 2nd – T.J. Collett reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to second on Luke Heyer’s walk. Ryan Johnson lined a single to CF, scoring Collett. UK 1, Texas Tech 0.
Top 3rd – Zayne Willems and Gabe Holt walked and Cody Masters was hit by pitch to load the bases. Josh Jung singled to LF, scoring Willems and Holt and moving Masters to third. Clay Koelzer grounded out to third, scoring Masters. Texas Tech 3, UK 1.
Bottom 3rd – Ben Aklinski doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Luke Becker’s SAC fly to CF. Texas Tech 3, UK 2.
Top 4th – Willems singled to LF. Holt singled to RF, advancing Willems to third. Jung doubled to RF, scoring Willems and advancing Holt to third. Texas Tech 4, UK 2.
Bottom 4th – Collett singled up the middle. Trey Dawson singled to LF. Troy Squires homered the RF. UK 5, Texas Tech 4.
Top 6th – Willems homered to RCF. Texas Tech 5, UK 5.
Bottom 6th – Heyer walked. Johnson doubled to RCF, moving Heyer to 3B. Dawson’s squeeze bunt scored Heyer with Dawson reaching first on the fielder’s choice. Squires bunted for a hit, scoring Johnson. Aklinski bunted for a hit, scoring Dawson. Pompey walked to load the bases. Becker singled to LCF, scoring Squires. Aklinski scored on Kole Cottam’s SAC fly to CF. UK 10, Texas Tech 5.
Top 8th – Connor Beck and Braxton Fulford singled. Holt walked to load the bases. Masters grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Beck. UK 10, Texas Tech 6.
Bottom 8th – Aklinski walked and scored on Pompey’s double to RF. UK 11, Texas Tech 6.
The final game of the series is Sunday with first pitch set for 4 p.m. and it will be aired on SECN+ and 98.5 FM Lexington.
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