Two-Out Rally Stings Kentucky in Tight Affair With NC State

Two-Out Rally Stings Kentucky in Tight Affair With NC State

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Top-seeded Kentucky’s late rally came up just short in a 5-4 loss to No. 3 seed NC State in front of a Cliff Hagan Stadium record crowd of 4,742 on Saturday night. UK will face Indiana in an elimination game for the Lexington Regional on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. 
The Cats (40-21) scored two runs over the final three innings, including a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning from junior first baseman Evan White, but couldn’t overcome the Wolfpack’s three-run fifth inning that included a two-run triple by Evan Mendoza that sneaked past the centerfielder.

For the second game in as many days the Cats’ offense was able to work counts and pile up baserunners but could not find a hole to bring them home, leaving 10 men on base. The Cats chased NC State starter Michael Bienlien four batters into the contest but lefty Sean Adler danced in and out of trouble while throwing 122 pitches in relief to get the win. Austin Staley yielded an opposite field home run to White in the ninth but the Cats couldn’t get the tying run on base after that.
NC State (36-23) had an early answer for UK’s run in the top of the first, hitting back-to-back home runs to lead off the bottom half of the inning. The Wolfpack extended their lead in the fifth inning after a two-out walk, triple, and single from the lower half of the batting order. 
UK junior lefty Zach Logue came on in relief of starter Justin Lewis in the sixth inning and struck out four, holding the Wolfpack at five runs and giving the Cats a chance to make a run at a win that would have vaulted them into Sunday night’s regional final. If they are to advance to the Super Regional the Cats must beat Indiana and NC State on Sunday and the Wolfpack again on Monday.
Top 1st – Tristan Pompey singled to CF and advanced to second base on a fielding error by the centerfielder. Zach Reks walked and moved to second on a double steal. Luke Becker walked, and Riley Mahan had a SAC fly, scoring Pompey. UK 1, NC State 0.
Bot 2nd – Stephen Pitarra and Josh McLain hit back-to-back home runs. NC State 2, UK 1.
Top 3rd – Pompey led off with a home run to LCF. UK 2, NC State 2.
Bot 5th – Joe Dunand singled, and Will Wilson walked. Evan Mendoza tripled to CF, scoring Dunand and Wilson. Andy Cosgrove singled, which plated Mendoza. NC State 5, UK 2.
Top 7th – Evan White walked. Kole Cottam stepped in to pinch hit for Luke Becker and singled to RCF, moving White to third base. Mahan singled to CF, scoring White. NC State 5, UK 3.
Top 9th – White homered to RCF. NC State 5, UK 4. 
• The Cats are now 15-17 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
• Kentucky struck out seven NC State hitters in the game, extending its single-season record to 539 total strikeouts.
• UK is now 27-6 at Cliff Hagan Stadium, marking just the fifth time in UK history the Cats have won at least 25 games at home.
     o The 27 wins are the fourth most in a season at Cliff Hagan Stadium, five shy of the record 31 the 2006 team posted.
     o The Cats are 17-1 at home vs. non-SEC foes.
• Sophomore OF Tristan Pompey went 2-for-4 with a home run, two runs, a walk and a stolen base.
     o He extended his reached base safely streak to 32 straight games.
     o Pompey now has hit safely in 45 of his past 50 games.
     o Pompey has 25 multi-hit games this season and 32 for his career.
     o Pompey’s home run was his first outside of SEC play.
• Junior 1B Evan White went 2-for-4 with a home run, two runs and a walk.
     o White now has 226 career hits, moving him into a tie with Ryan Wilkes (2005-08) for 7th on UK’s all-time list.
     o White has a hit in 32 of his last 38 games.
     o Has reached base safely streak to 25 of last 28 games. 
     o White now has 27 multi-hit games this season and 71 for his career.
• Senior OF Zach Reks went 1-for-4 with a walk and stolen base.
     o Reks has reached base safely in 30 of the last 31 games.
     o Has a hit in 15 of the past 17 games.
• Sophomore C Kole Cottam went 1-for-2 after entering as a pinch hitter.
     o Cottam is 12-for-23 in the last seven games, including five extra-base hits.
     o Cottam is riding a career-long seven game hit streak.
• Junior IF Riley Mahan went 1-for-2 with a walk and two RBI.
     o Mahan now has 16 multi-RBI games this season and 23 in his career.
• Senior SS Connor Heady went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt.
     o Heady’s SAC bunt was his 14th of the season, the third most in a single-season for a UK player. His 20 career SACs ties teammate Troy Squires and Chris Wade (2014-17) for 10th on UK all-time list.
Kentucky will face Indiana at 1 p.m. on Sunday in an elimination game. The game can be heard on 630 AM and and is currently scheduled to be aired on ESPN3.

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