Seas the Day: Captain Gilliam Steers No. 11 Kentucky to Victory
Hunter Gilliam taxed the Xavier pitching staff, smashing a pair of tape-measure home runs on his way to a six-RBI game in No. 11 Kentucky’s 13-2 run-rule victory in eight innings. His second bomb of the night, and eighth of the season, was the first walk-off homer at Kentucky Proud Park since the final game of the Covid-shortened 2020 season.
Gilliam blasted a 452-foot missile in the first inning, added a sacrifice fly later and then launched a two-run 409-foot projectile in the eighth to give the Cats (29-7) a Tax Day victory. For those counting, that’s 871 feet of homers.
The victory was drama free, as the Cats scored the first six runs of the game behind an offense that saw eight players get hits, all nine batters reach base and redshirt freshman pitcher Travis Smith look sharp in his first time on the mound in two weeks. Shortstop Grant Smith and centerfielder Jackson Gray – who had three hits – also put on a defensive show.
- Kentucky is 36-10 over its last 46 games dating to last season.
- UK Coach Nick Mingione is in his seventh season at the helm and now owns a 205-136 career record.
- Kentucky is 128-38 in non-conference games under Coach Mingione.
- UK is 113-16 vs. non-Power Five opponents.
- Mingione is 91-43 at Kentucky Proud Park.
- UK is 9-0 this season in midweek games.
- UK is 19-2 in non-conference games this season.
- UK is 48-48 in the month of April under Coach Mingione.
- UK has scored in 334 of 341 games under Coach Mingione.
- UK scored four runs in the first, the 28th time it has scored four or more runs in an inning this season.
- First baseman Hunter Gilliam went 2-for-4 with two runs, six RBI and two home runs.
- His second home run was a walk-off job, the first game-ending home run at Kentucky Proud Park since John Rhodes vs. Murray State in March 2020, the final game of the Covid-shortened 2020 season.
- He has eight homers this season.
- It is UK’s first multi-homer game since Chase Estep at Missouri in April 2022.
- Gilliam also had the walk-off hit in UK’s last run rule contest vs. Missouri.
- Outfielder Jackson Gray went 3-for-4 with two runs, a walk and stolen base.
- He had hits in each of his first three at bats.
- He also made a diving catch in centerfield.
- Outfielder Nolan McCarthy extended his reached safely streak to 15 straight games.
- Infielder Emilien Pitre went 2-for-4 with two runs, two RBI and a walk.
- He has hits in nine of his past 16 at bats.
- He has reached safely in 12 straight games.
- Pitcher Travis Smith earned his third win of the season.
Kentucky hosts Texas A&M on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET as it jumps back into SEC play. The radio call will be on the UK Sports Network (630 AM WLAP, locally) and it will be streamed on SECN+.