Extra Special: Cats Rally in Ninth, Win in Extra Innings
ATHENS, Ga. – Down to its final strike twice in the ninth inning, No. 8 Kentucky staged a three-run rally to tie the game and Trey Dawson’s game-winning double in the 11th provided the most stirring victory of the season as the Wildcats downed No. 18 Georgia, 6-4, at Foley Field.
Trailing 4-1 entering the ninth, battled against one of the Southeastern Conference’s top closers to even the game. Luke Heyer drew a one-out walk, Kole Cottam sliced a two-strike, two-out single through the right side and T.J. Collett pulled an RBI double into the right field corner. Pinch hitter Ryan Johnson fouled off four two-strike pitches to eventually work a walk to load the bases before Ben Aklinski ripped a single past third base to score the tying runs.
From there, sophomore right-hander Chris Machamer blew through the Bulldogs in the ninth and 10th before Zeke Lewis walked and Johnson’s drew another 10-pitch walk. Trey Dawson then blistered a two-strike pitch into the left-centerfield gap to score both runners and provide all the scoring Machamer would need.
For eight innings the Cats must have felt snake-bitten, as Georgia’s defense seemed perfectly placed all night. Centerfielder Tucker Maxwell twice committed robbery in the early innings, making a diving grab of what looked like a sure double off the bat of Ben Aklinski in the second and then a leaping grab at the wall on a possible three-run, game-tying home run from T.J. Collett in the fourth.
But UK starter Sean Hjelle did his part, shaking off one bad pitch early in the game to work eight innings and keep the Cats within striking distance. Machamer then entered and pumped 94 and 95 mph fastballs by the Bulldogs to close it out.
Bottom 2nd – Cam Shepherd reached on an infield hit. Adam Sasser homered to RF. UGA 2, UK 0.
Bottom 3rd – Aaron Schunk singled to LF. Keegan McGovern homered to LF. UGA 4, UK 0.
Top 4th – Tristan Pompey walked and moved to second on Troy Squires’ single to LF. Luke Heyer singled through the left side, scoring Pompey. UGA 4, UK 1.
Top 9th – Heyer walked. Kole Cottam singled to RF. T.J. Collett doubled into the RF corner, scoring Heyer and moving Cottam to third. Zeke Lewis pinch ran for Collett. Ryan Johnson walked to load the bases. Ben Aklinski singled through the left side of the infield, scoring Heyer and Lewis. UK 4, UGA 4.
Top 11th – Lewis and Johnson walked. Trey Dawson doubled to LCF, scoring Lewis and Johnson. UK 6, UGA 4.
- The UK offense …
- All 11 positional players who had an at bat reached base safely.
- Had two extra-base hits, but both came at critical times: T.J. Collett had an RBI double in the ninth and Trey Dawson had the game-winning double in the 11th.
- The eight hits in the game came from eight different players.
- The pitching staff…
- Did not allow a run over the final eight innings.
- Gave up just three hits after the third inning.
- Did not walk a batter.
- Several Cats extended impressive reached base safely streaks…
- Junior OF Tristan Pompey has reached in 62 of the past 65 games.
- Senior INF Luke Becker has reached in all 34 games.
- Senior C/1B Troy Squires has reached in 33 of 34 games this season.
- Junior OF Ben Aklinski has reached in 28 of the last 29 games.
Junior INF Trey Dawson had the game-winning, two-run, two-out double in the 11th.
- Dawson now has a career-long five-game hitting streak.
- It was his second career multi-RBI game.
Junior OF Ben Aklinski had the game-tying two-run, two-out single in the 9th.
- It was Aklinski’s fifth career multi-RBI game.
- Aklinski also made a sensational diving catch on the first hitter of Georgia’s half of the ninth inning.
Junior OF Ryan Johnson drew two walks.
- Both walks were 10-pitch at bats.
- The first came as a pinch hitter in the ninth with two outs.
- The second extended the game in the 11th for Dawson.
Senior C/1B Troy Squires went 1-for-5.
- He now has a career-long eight-game hitting streak.
Junior RHP Sean Hjelle got a no-decision in 8.0 innings of work.
- It was Hjelle’s longest outing of the season.
- In his last four starts he has pitched 29.1 innings, struck out 25 and not walked a batter.
Sophomore RHP Chris Machamer earned his third career win.
- Machamer pitched the final three innings, allowing just one baserunner.
- He has a win and four saves in seven April games this season.
- In those five outings he has pitched 10.1 innings, allowed just two hits, no runs, walked one and struck out 11.
The Cats continue their road trip by heading to Athens to face No. 18 Georgia this weekend. First pitch on Friday and Saturday is set for 7 p.m. with Sunday a noon start.