Wildcats Short-Circuited by Mississippi State Power Surge

UK Baseball hit Tex A&M hard - Photo by Chet White UK Athletics
UK Baseball hit Tex A&M hard – Photo by Chet White UK Athletics

Reigning SEC Player of the Week Brent Rooker hits three home runs  for Bulldogs

STARKVILLE, Miss. – A three-run first inning wasn’t enough to hold off a home run barrage by the reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Week as No. 8 Kentucky fell 10-6 to No. 19 Mississippi State in front of 13,691 fans at Dudy Noble Field, the eighth-largest on-campus attendance in NCAA history.

The Wildcats fell to 22-10 overall and 8-3 in SEC play but can still win the three-game series on Sunday afternoon. Sophomore right-hander Justin Lewis will take the hill for the Cats in the rubber game.

UK got off to a fast start, taking a 2-0 lead two batters into the game when Tristan Pompey hit his fourth home run of the season. Kole Cottam’s RBI double, the first of his career-high four RBI, staked the Cats to a 3-0 lead before the Bulldogs came to the plate.

But Mississippi State (21-12, 7-4) took control with a six-run second inning that was fueled by two infield hits and two hit batters before State’s Brent Rooker, one of the nation’s most prolific power hitters, clubbed a no-doubt grand slam to left field. Rooker went deep again in the fourth, depositing a two-strike pitch over the centerfield wall, and hit his third long ball of the night, also on a two-strike pitch, to left in the sixth.

Kentucky had its chances to climb back into the game but watched as numerous hard-hit balls found the leather of Mississippi State defenders. In the ninth, the Cats loaded the bases with no outs but could only get two runs home on Cottam’s two-run double.

AT THE PLATE

Sophomore Kole Cottam had a terrific night, going 3-for-5 with a career-high four RBI. He counted two doubles among his three hits, which also tied a career-high. Tristan Pompey hit the ball hard in every at bat, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored, two RBI and a home run. Evan White and Riley Mahan also each recorded multi-hit games.

ON THE MOUND

UK starter Zach Logue was victimized by the longest and shortest of balls in his 5.2 innings of work. The Bulldogs hit four home runs, including a grand slam, but it was the three infield hits and two hit batters that really hurt, keeping alive the six-run second inning long enough for Brent Rooker’s grand slam. Freshman righty Chris Machamer relieved Logue and yielded a home run to Rooker but settled in and struck out five of the next six batters before State tacked on a pair of two-out runs in the eighth.

SCORING

Top 1st – Evan White singled to start the game and scored on Tristan Pompey’s two-run home run to RCF. Riley Mahan walked and came home on Kole Cottam’s double to RCF. UK 3, Miss. State 0.

Bottom 2nd – Cody Brown homered to RF. Luke Alexander reached on an infield hit to the right side, advanced to second when Josh Lovelady was hit by a pitch, moved to third on Harrison Bragg’s SAC fly and scored on Tanner Poole’s SAC fly to CF. Hunter Stovall singled to RF and Jake Mangum was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Brent Rooker, who hit a grand slam to LF. Miss. State 6, UK 3.

Bottom 4th – Rooker homered to CF. Miss. State 7, UK 3.

Top 6th – Mahan tripled off top of RCF wall and scored on Cottam’s line single up the middle. Miss. State 7, UK 4.

Bottom 6th – Rooker homered to LF. Miss. State 8, UK 4.

Bottom 8th – Stovall started a two-out rally with a ground rule double. Mangum was hit by a pitch and Rooker was intentionally walked to load the bases before Ryan Gridley hit a two-run single up the middle. Miss. State 10, UK 4.

Top 9th – White and Pompey singled to start the inning and Reks walked to load the bases. Cottam hit a two-run double to LCF. Miss. State 10, UK 6.

NOTES

  • Sophomore C Kole Cottam went 3-for-5 with two doubles and four RBI.

o   The four RBI set a new career-high, besting the three he had at North Carolina on Feb. 19.

o   The three hits tied his career-high.

  • Junior 1B Evan White went 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored.

o   White currently owns a nine-game hit streak.

o   White now has 182 career hits, good for 18th place on UK’s career hits list.

o   It was White’s 10th multi-hit effort in 19 games this season and 54th of his career.

  • Sophomore OF Tristan Pompey went 3-for-5 with two runs, two RBI and a home run.

o   Pompey now has hit safely in 19 of his past 21 games.             

o   It was Pompey’s fourth HR of the season, two from each side of the plate.

o   It was Pompey’s 12th multi-hit game of 2017 and 19th of his career.

  • Junior IF Riley Mahan went 2-for-4 with a walk, a triple and two runs scored.

o   It was Mahan’s 13th multi-hit game of the season and 30th of his career.

ON DECK

Kentucky will try to win its fourth SEC series in as many week with the final of the three-game series at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Fans can listen on the UK Sports Network via UKathletics.com and iHeart Radio, as well as on 630 AM WLAP.

Follow along with the Cats on TwitterFacebook and Instagram, and on the web at UKathletics.com.