Kentucky Remains Perfect at Home with Late Rally

Kentucky Remains Perfect at Home with Late Rally

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky rallied from an early three-run deficit and took the lead for good in the seventh inning to post a 9-7 victory over Murray State in its final tune up before Southeastern Conference play begins this weekend. It was the Wildcats’ 10th consecutive victory at Cliff Hagan Stadium, the longest home winning streak to start a season since 2012.
Junior infielder Tyler Marshall hit an opposite field two-run double down the left field line in the seventh to break a tie and keep the Cats’ perfect start at home in tact. Senior left-hander Colton Cleary earned his first victory of the season and lowered his earned run average to 0.64 with 2.2 scoreless innings of relief work and senior lefty Logan Salow earned his second save of the season, striking out Davis Sims to end the game.
The Cats (12-6) have now won 12 of their last 14 games and enter SEC play with momentum, but it didn’t come easily on a sunny and cold day. Murray State used a two-run triple to jump out to a 3-0 lead on freshman left-handed starter Zack Thompson in the first inning, then tagged junior left Brad Schaenzer with his first runs allowed all season (19.0 innings) on a three-run home run by Brandon Gutzler that tied the game in the sixth inning.
But Marshall, who is drawing the majority of starts at first base with preseason All-American Evan White on the shelf with an injury, used his first extra-base hit of the season to give the Cats the victory.
The Cats used a Riley Mahan two-run double in the first inning to immediately answer Murray State’s early salvo and continued to tack on runs, all of which were needed against the pesky Racers. Connor Heady hit his fourth home run of the season and second in as many games, Riley Mahan had a two-run double and Tristan Pompey had a two-run ground rule double.
Zack Thompson had his shortest start as a Wildcat but did a good job limiting the damage and keeping the Cats in the game, still striking out six in 3.1 innings. Brad Schaenzer pushed his scoreless innings streak to start the year to 19 before being touched up for a home run. Colton Cleary earned his first win at UK and Logan Salow recorded his second save of the season, as the two combined to shut out the Racers over the final 3.1 innings.
Top 1st – Kipp Moore started the game with a walk and Adam Bauer followed with a single. Tyler Lawrence’s triple off the CF wall scored Moore and Bauer. Caleb Hicks and Davis Sims were hit with back-to-back pitches, scoring Lawrence. Murray St. 3, UK 0.
Bottom 1st – Marcus Carson’s double got things started for the Cats, with Zach Reks and Luke Becker walking after that. Riley Mahan hit a two-run double to LCF to score Carson and Reks. Kole Cottam’s RBI groundout scored Becker. UK 3, Murray St. 3.
Top 4th – Aaron Bence was hit by a pitch, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Brandon Gutzler drove in Bence on a sacrifice fly to CF. Murray St. 4, UK 3.
Bottom 4th – Tyler Marshall walked and Connor Heady singled to LF. Carson’s sacrifice bunt moved both runners over in front of Tristan Pompey’s ground rule double over the left fielder’s head, which scored both Marshall and Heady. Pompey took third on a wild pitch and scored on a throwing error by the second baseman on Becker’s groundball. UK 6, Murray St. 4.
Bottom 5th – Heady homered to LF. UK 7, Murray St. 4.
Top 6th – Gutzler hit a two-out, three-run home run to LF, scoring Bence and Bauer. UK 7, Murray St. 7.
Bottom 7th – Cottam singled up the middle and pinch hitter Storm Wilson was hit by a pitch. Marshall doubled the opposite way into the LF corner, scoring both Cottam and Wilson. UK 9, Murray St. 7.
• Junior LHP Brad Schaenzer pitched 2.1 IP in relief before allowing his first runs of the season, ending his scoreless innings streak at 19.0 to start the season and 20.0 overall dating back to last season.
• Senior IF Conner Heady hit his fourth home run of the season. 
   o Heady has now homered in back-to-back games, the second UK player to do that this season (Evan White, Feb. 28 vs. Eastern Kentucky, and March 1 vs. Western Kentucky).
   o The four home runs add to his career season-high mark that was set in the previous game when he hit his third.
   o Now has 12 RBI, the most he’s had in a single season.
• Senior OF Storm Wilson was hit by a pitch in the 7th inning.
   o Wilson now has been hit by 38 pitches in his career, moving him into a tie with Keenan Wiley for 2nd on the UK career list. He stands one behind career record holder Thomas Bernal (39).
• Junior IF Tyler Marshall hit his first double of the season, a two-run shot in the 7th inning that gave UK the lead for good.
   o Marshall’s game-winning RBI makes him the seventh UK player to record one this season in the Cats’ 12 wins.
• Senior LHP Colton Cleary pitched 2.2 innings of scoreless baseball in relief, earning his first victory of the season.
   o Cleary now has a 0.64 ERA, giving up one earned run in 14 innings this season.
   o He has not allowed a run in seven of his eight appearances.
• Senior LHP Logan Salow earned his second save of the season.
   o Salow now has 72 career appearances, ranking him 9th on UK’s career list. He needs one more to tie Scott Smith (1990-93) for eighth. 
• Kentucky is 10-0 at home this season.
   o The streak is the longest at home to start a season since the 2012 club started 21-0.
• Kentucky has outscored its opponents 106-23 in 10 games at home this season. 
Kentucky begins SEC play this weekend, traveling to Texas A&M for a three-game series at Blue Bell Park. First pitch on Friday is slated for 7 p.m. and will be part of the SEC Network’s Bases Loaded coverage of Opening Weekend. Fans can listen on the UK Sports Network via and iHeart Radio or 105.5 FM in the Lexington area. 

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