Kentucky Offense Making Things Happen
In Friday’s SEC baseball opener against Georgia, Kentucky struggled at the plate against Bulldogs right-hander Robert Tyler. The Wildcats managed just five hits in a 5-2 loss at Foley Field in Athens.
Since that game, Kentucky has played three times and has experienced no such struggles at the plate. The latest example came on Tuesday night when the Wildcats beat intrastate rival Morehead State 10-5 at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky did its damage early and often on Tuesday. The Wildcats strung together six hits and scored four runs in a first inning that could have been much bigger had two Wildcats been picked off by MSU starting pitcher Matt Ellenbest.
The Wildcats added two hits in the second and third innings en route to building a 7-1 lead after three frames.
Tuesday marked the third straight game in which Kentucky has posted double figures in both hits and runs. The Wildcats are now 8-1 on the season when getting at least 10 hits and 8-0 when getting 11 hits or more in a game. Kentucky is 6-0 when scoring at least 10 runs.
During the current three-game winning streak, Kentucky is batting .345 as a team with an on-base percentage of .422. Those types of offensive numbers please Kentucky head coach Gary Henderson.
“We hit a bunch of balls on the nose early on,” Henderson said. “With guys on base, we came through and drove them in.”
Red-hot Gunnar McNeill led the way for Kentucky, going 3-for-4 at the plate and extending his hitting streak to 15 games. McNeill singled on a hit-and-run play in the first inning before later scoring. He singled and scored again in the third inning before adding another single in the seventh inning, raising his season batting average to an even .400.
“I’m continuing to work on my game and when I step in the box I feel confident,” McNeill said. “Wherever it’s pitched, I’m trying to put my ‘A’ swing on it.“
“He fits in pretty well, driving in runs from the four spot,” Henderson said of McNeill. “He brings us a nice presence, not scared, he’s into the game and he’s got good instincts.”
Four other Wildcats also had multi-hit games. Leadoff hitter Storm Wilson was 2-for-4 in the game, while freshman left fielder Tristan Pompey, right fielder Zach Reks and shortstop Riley Mahan each added a pair of hits.
“I am liking the progress we’re making,” Henderson said of his offense. “I thought we did a really good job of hunting fastballs up and when we got them we pulled the trigger. Third game in a row of being able to take advantage of things that were given to us and coming through when those things were really there.”
Henderson and the Wildcats hope they can continue their offensive onslaught this weekend when the top-ranked Florida Gators come to town. The three-game series against the Gators begins with a 6:30 p.m. ET start on Friday night, followed by a Saturday game at 2 p.m. ET and the Sunday series finale at 1 p.m. ET. All of those games can be seen on SEC Network+.