Kentucky Outlasts Texas A&M to Win Thriller in Ninth Inning, Take Series

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Kentucky erased a pair of two-run deficits in the final three innings and scored the winning run on a gutsy squeeze bunt in the ninth inning to outlast host No. 22 Texas A&M 7-6 in front of 5,796 vocal fans at Blue Bell Park. The victory gives the Cats their first road series victory over a ranked Southeastern Conference foe since April 2015 at No. 5 Florida.

On Sunday, the Cats (14-6, 2-0 SEC) will go for their first sweep of a ranked opponent since doing so against No. 2 South Carolina in March 2012 and first sweep of a true road series since taking three at Tennessee in May 2008.

This one didn’t come easy, as the Cats staged come-from-behind rallies in the seventh and eighth innings before pushing across the winning run in the ninth. The Aggies led 2-0 before UK scored four in the seventh and looked poised to close the door, but three errors contributed to A&M responding with its own four-run inning to reclaim a 6-4 lead. 

The Cats didn’t flinch, as pinch-hitter Storm Wilson lined a two-run, bases loaded single to right field to tie the game, with Luke Becker executing a perfect slide to beat the throw home by extending his arm through the catcher’s legs to reach the plate. 

After Brad Schaenzer pitched a scoreless eighth for the Cats, Marcus Carson led off the ninth with a double to left field and moved to third on Tristan Pompey’s sacrifice bunt. Zach Reks, who made a brilliant catch while slamming into the left field wall early in the game and injured his ankle in the process, nearly scored Carson on a squeeze bunt that rolled foul at the last second. Undeterred, Reks laid another squeeze down and Carson slid just under the tag to score the winning run.

Logan Salow pitched a perfect ninth to give the Cats their 12 win in the past 13 games and 14th in the past 16.


AT THE PLATE
The Cats couldn’t get much going the first six innings but stuck with their game plan and finally got Texas A&M starter Stephen Kolek to crack in the seventh inning before getting to the Aggies’ bullpen. Storm Wilson’s pinch hit, two-run game-tying single in the eighth and Marcus Carson’s two-run, two-strike, two-out single in the seventh were the big blows but the Cats got major contributions from up and down the lineup via hit by pitches, sacrifices and smart baserunning.


ON THE MOUND
Zach Logue’s final line will show he allowed five runs – three earned – in 6.1 innings but he was terrific for much of the afternoon, allowing just a Braden Shewmake home run as loud contact through six. A trio of errors didn’t help his cause in the seventh but Colton Cleary and Zach Pop got out of the inning with the Cats still maintaining contact and Brad Schaenzer and Logan Salow closed the door over the final two innings.


SCORING
Bottom 4th – Braden Shewmake homered to RF. TAMU 1, UK 0.

Bottom 6th – No. 9 hitter George Janca lined a single to LF and moved to second on Nick Choruby’s sacrifice bunt. Cole Bedford grounded a ball up the middle that got just under the glove of UK shortstop Connor Heady, scoring Janca. TAMU 2, UK 0.

Top 7th – Zach Reks started the inning with a double inside the 1B bag and advanced to third on Luke Becker’s infield single. Riley Mahan drove in Reks with a sacrifice fly to CF. Pinch hitter Luke Heyer greeted A&M reliever John Doxakis with a game-tying single up the middle to score Becker. Marcus Carson delivered a two-run, two-strike, two-out single to score Cottam and Heyer. UK 4, TAMU 2.

Bottom 7th – Walker Pennington led off the inning with a double off the LCF wall and moved to third on a fielding error that allowed Hunter Coleman to reach. Austin Homan grounded into a potential double play but reached and advanced to second on a throwing error, with Pennington scoring on the play. Janca blooped a single to LF that scored Homan. Shewmake reaches on a throwing error, scoring Janca. Choruby scores on a balk. TAMU 6, UK 4.

Top 8th – Reks singled to LF, Becker walked and Kole Cottam was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Pinch hitter Storm Wilson lined a two-run, game-tying single to RF to score Reks and Becker. UK 6, TAMU 6.

Top 9th – Carson doubled to LF to start the inning and moved to third on Tristan Pompey’s SAC bunt. Reks executes squeeze play to score Carson. UK 7, TAMU 6.

NOTES
• This is Kentucky’s first road series win over a ranked team since taking two of three at Florida on April 24-26, 2015.
• The Cats have now won five straight games against ranked teams and are 5-3 on the season against ranked foes.
• Junior infielder Tyler Marshall now has a career-long six-game hitting streak.
• The Cats were hit by three pitches, making it seven total HBPs in two games against Texas A&M.
• Senior left-hander Logan Salow earned his third save of the season and seventh of his career.
    o Salow now has 73 career appearances, which ranks tied for 8th with Scott Smith (1990-93) on UK’s career list. 
• Senior outfielder Storm Wilson recorded his 107th career hit, moving him into a tie with current UK grad assistant Micheal Thomas for 43rd on UK’s career list.


ON DECK
Kentucky will try to sweep the series on Sunday. First pitch  against the Aggies is scheduled for 2 p.m. and will aired on SECN+. Fans can listen on the UK Sports Network via UKathletics.com and iHeart Radio.