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McNeill, Pompey Homer in 8-6 Win over George Mason
McNeill, Pompey Homer in 8-6 Win over George Mason

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Freshman Tristan Pompey and junior Gunnar McNeill each belted two-run homers  and senior Dustin Beggs fired his ninth career quality start, leading No. 25 Kentucky to an 8-6 win over George Mason, on an overcast Saturday afternoon at USC Upstate’s Harley Park.

Kentucky (1-1) jumped out to an early lead with a run in the first, before Pompey’s blast – his first career hit – in the third highlighted a three-run frame. Pompey, a 6-foot-4 switch-hitting native of Toronto, is the first UK player to collect his first career hit as a homer since Luke Maile in 2010. McNeill then gave UK a cushion with a two-run homer in the ninth, his first of the year, before Luke Becker ripped a two-run double. George Mason got a three-run homer in the ninth for the final margin. 

Beggs (1-0) worked his ninth career quality start in his 15th opportunity. A native of Roswell, Ga., Beggs worked six innings, allowing four hits and one run, walking one and striking out five, adding a runner picked off. After allowing a one-out RBI single in the fourth inning, settled in to retire eight consecutive hitters to end his outing.

Sophomore righty Zach Pop took over to start the seventh inning, working over an inning, allowing a hit and two unearned run, striking out one. With runners on the corners and no outs in the eighth, Zach Logue took over in relief of Pop.  Logue escaped the eighth and senior Bo Wilson started the ninth, finishing the win. 

UK had multi-hit games from McNeill, JaVon Shelby, Zach Reks and Riley Mahan.  McNeill had an RBI single and a two-run homer, driving in three runs. Shelby tied his career high with three hits, including a pair of doubles. Storm Wilson was hit by a pair of pitches, stealing a base and scoring a run. Reks finished 3-for-3 off the bench and Becker’s game was highlighted by a two-RBI double.

George Mason (0-2) starter Joe Williams (0-1) worked four innings, allowing five hits and four runs, walking one and striking out four. Ryan Ricci, Brian Marcoini, Saul Aguilera, Tyler Tobin and Tyler Kardas  each worked in relief.

Kentucky will return to action on Sunday, playing Dayton at 10 a.m. ET at USC Upstate.

The Wildcats got on the board in the first inning, as Wilson got hit by a one-out pitch, stealing second base. McNeill then lofted a single into shallow centerfield, scoring Wilson for a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the third inning, UK got a leadoff single from White, who took second on a sacrifice bunt from Wilson. Shelby then pulled a double down the leftfield line, scoring White for a two-run lead. After a pop out, Pompey smashed a no-doubt, two-run homer over the leftfield fence – his first collegiate hit – giving UK a 4-0 lead.

George Mason got a run back in the fourth, cutting the UK lead to 4-1. Brady Acker singled to leadoff, scoring on Trevor Kelly’s RBI single.

The Patriots rallied in the eighth inning, as Tim Turner singled to lead off. Alejandro Aponte then grounded up the middle, but the throw to second to get the lead runner sailed wide to rightfield, allowing Turner to score and Aponte to take second. Brandon Gum then reached on a throwing error, with Aponte taking third. UK turned to Logue in relief with runners on the corners and no outs. Micheal Smith grounded into a fielder’s choice to great Logue, allowing Aponte to score for a 4-3 margin.

In the ninth, UK added to its lead, as Shelby poked a double down the line, scoring on McNeill’s opposite-field jack to rightfield. Zach Arnold was then hit by a pitch and Reks singled through the right side. Becker followed with a two-run double into the right-centerfield gap.

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