Sunday Funday: Justin Lewis Pitches Cats to Win on Easter
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – For the second straight weekend Justin Lewis came through with a clutch outing on the mound to score an important win for Kentucky, handcuffing Alabama in a 5-2 win on Easter Sunday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Lewis was touched up for a two-run home run in the first inning but didn’t allow anything else over his 7.1 innings as the No. 6 Wildcats rallied from the early deficit and pulled away late. In the past two starts, Lewis has a pair of wins, giving up just six hits and three runs in 12.1 innings.
The win was crucial for the Cats in the Southeastern Conference race, lifting their record to 19-9 overall and 3-6 in the league. Having not faced a division opponent yet the Cats still have their regular season goals in front of them with 21 conference games remaining.
UK coach Nick Mingione tweaked the lineup on Sunday, inserting junior Ryan Shinn as the designated hitter and junior Alex Rodriguez at third base, while shifting hard-hitting senior Luke Heyer to left field and junior Tristan Pompey to right. Both moves paid immediate dividends, as Shinn had two hits, including a game-tying RBI double, and Rodriguez made four sensational defensive plays.
Pompey, having been snake-bitten much of the weekend, laced a solo home run inside the left field pole to give the Cats the lead for good in the seventh to go along with Heyer and junior Kole Cottam’s three-hit days. Cottam got the Cats on the board early with a solo home run that hit his own face on the video board beyond the fence in left-centerfield.
Sophomore closer Chris Machamer replaced Lewis with one on in the eighth and shutdown the inning before a perfect ninth gave him his second save on the season and got the Cats out of town with a win.
Bottom 1st – Joe Breaux doubled and scored on Chandler Taylor’s home run. Alabama 2, UK 0.
Top 2nd – Kole Cottam homered to LF. Alabama 2, UK 1.
Top 6th – Luke Heyer doubled to LCF and moved to third on Cottam’s single. Ryan Shinn doubled into the LF corner, scoring Heyer and moving Cottam to third. UK 2, Alabama 2.
Top 7th – Tristan Pompey homered to LF. Troy Squires was hit by a pitch. Ben Aklinski singled to SS. Luke Becker grounded out to 1B, moving both runners up. Heyer singled to LCF, scoring Squires. UK 4, Alabama 2.
Top 9th – Heyer and Cottam singled to RF. T.J. Collett was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Ryan Johnson hit a SAC fly to CF, scoring Heyer. UK 5, Alabama 2.
- The offense has homered in 25 of 28 games this season.
- Several Cats extended impressive reached base safely streaks…
- Junior OF Tristan Pompey has reached in 57 of the past 60 games.
- Senior INF Luke Becker has reached in all 28 games.
- Senior C/1B Troy Squires has reached in 27 of 28 games this season.
- Junior OF Ben Aklinski has reached in 22 of the last 23 games.
Junior RHP Justin Lewis pitched 7.1 innings, giving up five hits, two runs and striking out six.
- Lewis earned his fifth win of the season and 13th of his career.
- He now has 52 strikeouts in 41.0 innings pitchesd.
Senior C/1B Troy Squires went 1-for-3 with a run scored.
- His SAC bunt was the 27th of his career, moving him into a tie with Matt Reida (2011-14) for third on the school’s all-time list.
Junior C/1B Kole Cottam went 3-for-4 with a run, walk, and solo home run.
- He now has 12 home runs on the season after just eight total his first two years.
- The 12 home runs lead the SEC.
- He has 12 multi-hit games this season and 38 for his career.
- He has hit five home runs in nine conference games.
Junior IF/OF Luke Heyer went 3-for-5 with two runs, a double and an RBI.
- Heyer now has 12 multi-hit games this season and 16 for his career.
- Heyer has 20 extra-base hits in 27 games.
Junior OF Ryan Shinn went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
- He has two multi-hit games for his career.
- His RBI double tied the game in the sixth inning.
Sophomore RHP Chris Machamer pitched 1.2 innings, striking out two and recording the save.
- It was Machamer’s second save of the season and third of his career.
The Cats begin an important week at home with rival Louisville coming to The Cliff on Tuesday evening and South Carolina arriving for a weekend series. The Louisville game will be streamed on SECN+ and Darren Headrick will have the radio call on 630 AM WLAP.