Courtesy of UK Athletics.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 6 Kentucky baseball team was unable to find the comeback magic on Sunday, dropping the finale of its three-game showdown against No. 3 Texas Tech 5-3 at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Still, the Wildcats claimed their first series win over a top-five team since 2016 as conference play opens next weekend.

Texas Tech used two swings of the bat to take an early lead and then answer the Cats’ rally before its bullpen held strong over the final six innings. Designated hitter John McMillon crushed a no-doubt, three-run home run in the second inning to give the Red Raiders a 3-0 lead and second baseman Gabe Holt got a 0-2 pitch from Justin Lewis into the wind blowing out to right field for a two-run shot in the fourth.

Lewis, who suffered his first loss of the season, did not pitch poorly but the two mistakes cost him. He finished with 10 strikeouts and only six hits allowed but also hit two batters and walked three with uncharacteristic command issues.

At the plate, senior catcher Troy Squires continued his torrid week by smacking a two-run double in the third inning that briefly cut the deficit to 3-2. He was the lone Cat to record multiple hits and extended his on-base streak to 17 games. Senior infielder Luke Becker also extended his streak to 17 games, while sophomore designated hitter T.J. Collett pushed his to 16 straight games.

Despite Sunday’s defeat, the Cats claimed its first series win over a top-five team since taking two of three versus No. 2 South Carolina in May 2016. They are now 4-1 against ranked teams this season and have won seven series versus ranked teams in coach Nick Mingione’s two seasons at the helm, including a 12-4 overall mark at home against ranked foes.

SCORING

Top 2nd – Josh Jung was hit by a pitch and Cameron Warren singled to RF. John McMillon homered to RCF. Texas Tech 3, UK 0.

Bottom 3rd – Ryan Johnson singled to RF and Trey Dawson walked. Troy Squires doubled into the RF corner, scoring both Johnson and Dawson. Texas Tech 3, UK 2.

Top 4th – Cody Farhat singled to LF and scored on Gabe Holt’s home run to RCF. Texas Tech 5, UK 2.

Bottom 5th – Johnson walked and advanced to third on Squires’ single. Ben Aklinski grounded into a FC, scoring Johnson. Texas Tech 5, UK 3.

NOTES

·         Kentucky is now 4-1 against ranked opponents this season.

o   The Cats have 21 wins vs. ranked teams the past two seasons.

o   The Cats have six wins vs. Top 10 teams during that span.

·         This was the first series win over a top-five team since taking two of three vs. No. 2 South Carolina May 6-8, 2016.

·         The Cats have won seven series vs. ranked teams since Nick Mingione became coach.

·         UK is now 12-4 vs. ranked teams at Cliff Hagan Stadium under Mingione.

·         The offense has …

o   Scored 123 runs in the past 12 games.

o   Recorded 84 extra base hits this season.

o   Scored 77 runs on 85 hits in the past eight games.

·         Senior C/1B Troy Squires went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI.

o   Squires has reached base safely in all 17 games this season.

o   He had six RBI in the series.

o   He now has five multi-hit games this season and 18 for his career.

o   He also now has seven multi-RBI games this season and 14 for his career.

·         Senior INF Luke Becker went 1-for-4 with a double.

o   He has reached base safely streak to all 17 games this season.

·         Junior OF Ben Aklinski walked twice, drove in a run and stole two bases.

o   Aklinski has a 12-game reached base safely streak.

ON DECK

The finale of a six-game homestand comes Tuesday afternoon when Murray State comes to town. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. with the game airing on SECN+ and 98.5 FM Lexington.

Image courtesy of Britney Howard, UK Athletics