Kentucky Baseball Rolls Over Missouri to Take Series
Look out SEC, because here come the ‘Cats.
On an extremely windy day at Kentucky Proud Park, Kentucky baseball rolled over the Missouri Tigers 10-0 in front of KPP’s largest crowd of the season. With the win, the Wildcats improve to 24-3 on the season, having won 19 of its last 20 games. With Saturday’s victory, Kentucky has won its first three SEC series, which puts the ‘Cats on the fast track to the SEC Tournament. Thanks to an early offensive explosion and a great outing from Tyler Bosma, the ‘Cats rolled with ease.
Bosma made his seventh start of the season on Saturday, and it may just have been his best. In six innings pitched, “The Boz” gave up just four hits, no runs, and struck out six Mizzou batters on a career-high 98 pitches. Bosma reached 200 career strikeouts in this one. It was a great bounce-back performance from him, as he gave up six hits and three earned runs in his last start against Alabama.
Wildcat Offense Off and Running
For the second game in a row, the Kentucky offense scored four or more runs in the first inning.
The ‘Cats scored five first-inning runs Friday night and four on Saturday afternoon. Jackson Gray kickstarted the Wildcats’ offense with a full-count double to start this one. After back-to-back HBP of Jase Felker and Devin Burkes, the bases were loaded for Émilien Pitre. Petey grounded out to second but allowed Jackson Gray to trot home for the first UK run of the day. Up to bat came “The Captain” Hunter Gilliam, who is currently one of the hottest hitters in the country. Riding a 19-game hitting streak entering Saturday’s game, Gilly extended it to 20 games with an RBI single.
Ryan Waldschmidt kept the party going. After hitting four RBI on Friday night, Waldy laced a double to left field to add another one to his ledger. Burkes scored easily, but Gilliam was gunned out at home attempting to score.
After transferring to Kentucky from EKU in the offseason, big things were expected out of Kendal Ewell. Ewell has struggled to find a consistent role on this Wildcat team, but he came up big on Saturday. Ewell notched his sixth hit and first RBI of the season on a single that scored Waldy. The ‘Cats led 4-0 after a five-hit first inning.
Missouri failed to respond in the top of the second and fell into an even deeper hole in the bottom of the inning. After Jase Felker and Devin Burkes were walked again, Missouri pitcher Zach Franklin was blown off the mound by the empowering winds.
The umpire called a balk, letting Felker and Burkes easily advance to their next base. With the pair on second and third following the balk, Émilien Pitre doubled into the center field gap to drive in two more Wildcat runs. After stealing third, Petey scored on a wild pitch to make it a 7-0 lead through just two innings.
Kentucky in Total Control
After another scoreless half-inning from Tyler Bosma, the ‘Cats continued to add to its lead in the third inning. After Nolan McCarthy fouled out to begin the bottom half of the inning, Grant Smith launched his third home run of the season (a solo shot) to extend the Wildcats’ lead to eight. After not hitting a long ball in his first 23 games of the season, Smith has hit three in his last four games. Smith, with a little bit of help from the gaudy Lexington wind, sent the homer 414 feet with a 101 mph exit velocity.
Offense is contagious.
The ‘Cats failed to score over the next two innings, but Bosma had them covered. Up 8-0 in the bottom of the sixth, Devin Burkes kicked the inning off with a double. After Pitre drew a walk, the ‘Cats pulled off a double steal of second and third. Ryan Waldschmidt grounded out to first, but it was just enough to score Devo from third.
Needing just one run to end this one in the bottom of the eighth, who else but “The Captain” to send the crowd home happy? After Jase Felker and Devin Burkes led off the inning with back-to-back singles, a Hunter Gilliam double scored Felker to send Mizzou home with yet another run-rule loss.
Game three of the weekend series will begin at noon on Sunday. The ‘Cats will be looking for its second SEC sweep of the season.