Kentucky's season ends, Pop returns

Former Ontario Blue Jays and Toronto Mets RHP Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.) returned as Kentucky was elimination in its super regional

Former Ontario Blue Jays and Toronto Mets RHP Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.) returned as Kentucky was elimination in its super regional

June 10, 2017

Kentucky’s Historic Season Comes to an End in Super Regional
The Wildcats reach heights unseen in program history, sets foundation for future


By Matt May
UK Media Relations

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Kentucky’s historic 2017 season came to a close with a 6-2 loss to Louisville on Saturday at Jim Patterson Stadium, ending a run that saw the program reach the Super Regional round for the first time and post the fourth-most wins in school history under first-year head coach Nick Mingione.
 
The Wildcats finished 43-23 despite beginning the season 2-5, playing for the regular season Southeastern Conference championship on the final day of play, reaching the top five of the national rankings and winning three elimination games in two days in the Lexington Regional, just the second time the program has hosted postseason play.
 
“I am really proud of this team because to do something that has never been done before is hard,” Mingione said. “They are going to be able to tell their kids, they are going to be able to tell their families, they are going to be able to tell their wives one day that they were a part of something that had never been done before.”
 
Having not reached the postseason since 2014, UK put itself within two victories of making the College World Series with a mix of strong pitching and one of the nation’s top offensive clubs. The Cats won 19 SEC games – the second most in school history – won 17 games against ranked teams and played a schedule that ranked among the nation’s top 10 most difficult.
 
On Saturday, Louisville used a pair of home runs from infielder Drew Ellis and answered every UK threat behind All-American left-hander Brendan McKay. The Cats piled up baserunners against McKay and put pressure on the Cardinals’ defense but couldn’t get either to crack, even in the ninth inning as senior outfielder Marcus Carson crushed a drive to right-centerfield that Logan Taylor caught while crashing into the wall.
 
Despite the way it ended the season will be remembered as one of the best in the program’s 121 years.
 
“We got over that hump, got into the Super Regional and that’s something that has never been done before in Kentucky history,” junior infielder Riley Mahan said. “I can promise you guys this, the University of Kentucky baseball program is in really good hands. With the coaching staff and all the athletic (administration) it’s in really good hands.”

Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.) made his first return to the mound since a mild flexor strain April 29 with Louisville leading 3-1 in the sixth, taking over for the starter. Pop was tagged for a run-scoring triple, issued a four-pitch walk, hit the man on a 1-2 count and was done. 
 
SCORING
Top 2nd – Drew Ellis homered to LCF. UL 1, UK 0
 
Top 5th – Logan Taylor walked and advanced to third base when Colby Fitch singled. Devin Mann flew out to Marcus Carson in CF, but Taylor scored on the sacrifice. UL 2, UK 0
 
Bot 5th – Riley Mahan doubled down the 1B line and moved to third base on a SAC bunt from Troy Squires. Mahan scored when Carson placed a SAC fly in foul territory in left field. UL 2, UK 1
 
Top 6th – Drew Ellis homered to left. Devin Hairston walked and scored when Josh Stowers tripled down the 3B line. UL 4, UK 1
 
Bot 7th – Squires singled, advanced to second base on a wild pitch, and eventually moved to third when Tyler Marshall singled. Tristan Pompey singled to CF, scoring Squires. UL 4, UK 2
 
Top 8th – Tyler Fitzgerald walked and scored when Taylor doubled to left field. Fitch singled to RCF, scoring Taylor from second. UL 6, UK 2
 
ON DECK
Kentucky’s seniors, juniors and redshirt sophomores now await next week’s Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, which begins Monday.

On the season

Tristan Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.) hit .361 with 18 doubles, 10 homers and 45 RBIs. He was 1.005 OPS in 66 games, while going 9-for-13 stealing bases ... C Kole Cottam, whose father is from Burlington, Ont. hit .319 with 12 doubles, a triple, seven homers and 44 RBIs. He has an .885 OPS in 55 games ... Pop was 1-1 with a 3.48 ERA as he walked 14 and fanned 20 in 20 2/3 innings appearing in 22 games.