The return of Zack Thompson to Kentucky’s starting pitching rotation helps Kentucky’s team and overall pitching rotation. In three innings, Thompson struck out seven batters and kept Tennessee batters off balance. The Kentucky bullpen kept Tennessee in check most of the game while the offense finds it’s groove.

Courtesy of UK Athletics.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Zack Thompson’s left arm set the tone early and Chris Machamer’s right arm enforced it late as No. 11 Kentucky responded with a 10-3 win over Tennessee on Saturday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

The Cats picked up their 30th win of the season and improved to 11-12 in Southeastern Conference play, keeping themselves in a good position in the league race.

Making his first start since Mar. 10, Thompson was untouchable, not giving up and striking out seven in his three innings of work. He walked a pair but pumped fastballs by the Volunteers’ bats, recording two strikeouts in each of the first two innings before sitting the side down on strikes in the third inning.

Meanwhile, seniors Luke Becker and Troy Squires each hit three-run homers on a night the wind was blowing in at a steady clip. Becker’s blast broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning, clearing the picnic area beyond the left-field wall on the opposite field shot. Squires put the game on ice with his bomb to right field in the eighth inning.

Zach Haake earned the win with clutch work in the fifth inning. He entered in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and no outs, coaxing a ground ball force out at home, an infield pop-up and a fly ball to left around a walk, holding the Vols to just one run.

After Becker’s home run gave the Cats a 4-1 lead the Vols pushed two runs across in the bottom half of the inning, using a walk and three hit batters along the way. Machamer, the Cats’ closer, entered and got the final out of the inning as part of his 2.1 scoreless innings.

With SEC Tournament positioning still very much on the line, the teams will meet Sunday looking for a series win. First pitch will be at 1 p.m. ET with the game will be streamed on the SEC Network+ and can be heard on the radio at 630 AM WLAP.

SCORING

Top 1st – Tristan Pompey doubled down the LF line and scored on Kole Cottam’s line drive single to CF. UK 1, UT 0.

Bottom 5th – Evan Russell singled, Benito Santiago singled and Nico Mascia walked to load the bases with no outs. Justin Ammons drew a two-out walk, scoring Santiago. UK 1, UT 1.

Top 6th – Troy Squires singled and moved to second on a balk. Luke Heyer singled to RF, moving Squires to third. Luke Becker homered to LF.  UK 4, UT 1.

Bottom 6th – Andre Lipcius walked and Brodie Leftridge was hit by pitch. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Russell grounded out to 3B, scoring Lipcius. Santiago hit a ground rule double to LCF, scoring Leftridge. UK 4, UT 3.

Top 7th – Trey Dawson and Pompey walked. Squires singled up the middle, scoring Dawson and moving Pompey to third. Heyer singled to LF, scoring Pompey. UK 6, UT 3.

Top 8th – Coltyn Kessler walked and was pinch run for by Zeke Lewis. Ryan Johnson singled to RF, moving Lewis to third. Dawson executed a perfect squeeze bunt to score Lewis and move Johnson to second. Pompey reached on an infield hit. Squires homered to RF, scoring Johnson and Pompey. UK 10, UT 3.

NOTES

·         Kentucky has scored in 54 consecutive games and 130 of the past 131 dating to the 2016 season. The lone shutout came in a seven-inning game.

·         Several Cats extended impressive reached base safely streaks …

o   Senior INF Luke Becker has reached in 45 of 46 games (and 89 of 90 including 2017 summer ball).

o   Junior C/1B Kole Cottam has reached safely in 16 straight games, has hits in 20 of the past 22 games and is riding a career-long nine-game hit streak.

o   Junior INF Trey Dawson has now reached base safely in 16 of his last 17 games.

o   Senior INF/OF Luke Heyer has reached in nine straight games and 14 of the last 15 games.

·         Senior C/1B Troy Squires went xxx

o   It was his fifth home run of the season and sixth career blast.

o   Squires now has 49 RBI on the season. He had 37 total RBI his first three seasons.

o   He has 14 multi-hit games this season and 27 for his career.

o   He has 13 multi-RBI games this season and 20 for his career.

·         Senior INF Luke Becker hit a game-winning three-run homer in the sixth inning.

o   It was his sixth home run of the season and 14th of his career.

o   Becker now has five multi-RBI games this season and 15 for his career.

·         Junior OF Tristan Pompey went 2-for-4 with three runs scored, a walk and a stolen base.

o   Pompey connected for his 13th double of the season.

o   It was Pompey’s 13th multi-hit game this season and 47th of his career.

·         Senior INF/OF Luke Heyer went 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI.

o   The RBI was Heyer’s team-high 50th of the season.

o   Heyer now has 18 multi-hit games this season and 22 for his career.

·         Sophomore LHP Zack Thompson made his first start since Mar. 10 against Texas Tech.

o   Thompson did not allow a hit and struck out seven in 3.0 innings.

o   Thompson ranks second on UK’s career chart for hits allowed per nine innings at just 6.01 per/9.

o   The lefty is averaging 11.84 strikeouts per nine innings for his career.

ON DECK

Both teams face a critical series finale Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The game will be streamed on the SEC Network+ and can be heard on the radio at 630 AM WLAP.

Game Highlights of Kentucky’s win over Tennessee in Game two of the three-game series, courtesy of KYwildcatsTV:

Image courtesy of UK Athletics