Baseball Advances Past Notre Dame
LEXINGTON – Greg Dombrowski tossed his fourth complete game of the season and Kentucky’s bats came alive as UK won its first NCAA Tournament game since 1988 with a 10-4 victory over Notre Dame on Saturday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (43-16), facing elimination after a loss to Ball State Friday night, broke a five-game tournament losing streak. Dombrowski improved to 10-2 on the season, tying him for third on the all-time single-season wins list. He scattered nine hits over nine innings of work with four strikeouts.
With the 10-run outburst, UK ran its season run total to 484, which broke an 18-year old school record.
The Wildcats face the loser of the Ball State vs. College of Charleston game at 2 p.m. Sunday at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be televised by the Big Blue Sports Network and aired on WLAP 630-AM.
Trailing 1-0, Kentucky snapped a streak of seven straight scoreless innings with a four-run fourth. Sean Coughlin and John Shelby worked back-to-back walks to open the inning and the pair moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Michael Bertram. Billy Grace followed with a two-run single that put the Wildcats ahead, 2-1. An out later, Shaun Lehmann changed the complexion of the game with a blast over the right-center field wall into the tailgate area for a 4-1 lead.
That chased Irish starter Tom Thornton, who took the loss after giving up four runs in four innings while walking the two and striking out one. Prior to the start, Thornton had walked only five all season, but never two back-to-back.
A Notre Dame miscue helped the Wildcats add three more runs in the sixth off reliever Jeff Manship. With two outs and two runners on, a wild throw by the Irish first baseman allowed Antone DeJesus to reach and Bertram to come around and score. Collin Cowgill followed by roping a two-run single to extend Kentucky’s lead to 7-1.
Kentucky padded its lead in the seventh when Shelby pulled a double down the left-field line and was driven in on a ground out by Ryan Wilkes.
The Irish cut the lead to 8-3 in the bottom of the frame when pinch-hitter Evan Sharpley walked to open the inning and Alex Nettey followed with a single to right field. Pinch hitter Matt Bransfield drove both in with a two-run double into center field on the next at bat.
Bertram answered in the eighth with a two-run single that plated Coughlin and Cowgill, each of whom reached on walks. The Irish managed a run in the bottom of the eighth, but Dombrowski was cruising by that point and closed out the game with a three-up, three-down ninth.