Road Hazard: Kentucky Loses SEC-Opening Series
No. 4 Wildcats swept by No. 5 Arkansas in Fayetteville to begin league play
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Winning on the road in the Southeastern Conference may be the most difficult thing to do in college baseball and Kentucky got a healthy dose of Arkansas’ confidence in the friendly confines of Baum Stadium in the league-opening series.
The No. 4 Wildcats came into the weekend having been swept in league play just once in the last 33 series – Ole Miss in 2016 – but saw just about anything and everything go wrong that could in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks never trailed and had an answer for everything in winning all three games, including two on Saturday.
Most of the damage was done in the opening inning, as the No. 5 Razorbacks plated 12 runs in the first inning during the series, including seven in Saturday’s nightcap. The Cats rallied within 8-6 on Ben Aklinski’s two-run home run in game two but could get no closer.
Like the opener on Friday, the UK pitchers had difficulty getting ahead in the count and Arkansas took advantage to the tune of 13 home runs on the weekend. Kentucky’s offense hit the ball hard most of the weekend but often right into the waiting gloves of defenders. Junior Kole Cottam did connect on a pair of home runs on the weekend as the Cats now have homered in 19 of 20 games this season.
The Cats return to Lexington before traveling to Xavier for an afternoon affair with the Musketeers on Tuesday. First pitch will be a 3 p.m. in Cincinnati.
GAME 1 - SCORING
Bottom 1st – Eric Cole homered to CF. Luke Bonfield homered to RCF. Arkansas 2, UK 0.
Bottom 2nd – Heston Kjerstad reached on a bunt single, moved to second on a single by Grant Koch and third on a fielder’s choice by Carson Shaddy. Kjerstad scored on a wild pitch. Arkansas 3, UK 0.
Bottom 3rd – Casey Martin blooped a single to RF. Dominic Fletcher singled to RF, scoring Martin, who advanced to second on a wild pitch. Jordan McFarland hit a soft single to LF. Kjerstad homered to LF, scoring Fletcher and McFarland. Arkansas 7, UK 0.
Top 5th – Kole Cottam homered to CF. Arkansas 7, UK 1.
Bottom 5th – Kjerstad was hit by a pitch and advanced to third on Koch’s single. Shaddy doubled to RF, scoring Kjerstad. Jax Biggers homered to RF, scoring Koch and Shaddy. Cole singled, Bonfield walked and Fletcher blooped a single behind 1B, scoring Cole. Arkansas 12, UK 1.
Bottom 6th – Shaddy doubled to LF and scored on a single by Biggers. Arkansas 13, UK 1.
Bottom 8th – Zack Plunkett homered to LF. Arkansas 14, UK 1.
Top 9th – Ryan Johnson singled and advanced to second on defensive indifference. Cottam singled, scoring Johnson. Arkansas 14, UK 2.
GAME 2 - SCORING
Bottom 1st – Jax Biggers and Eric Cole singled. Casey Martin moved both over with a SAC bunt. Luke Bonfield doubled to RF, scoring both Biggers and Cole. Jordan McFarland walked. Heston Kjerstad singled to LCF, scoring Bonfield. Grant Koch singled to CF, scoring McFarland and Kjerstad. Carson Shaddy homered to RF, scoring Koch. Arkansas 7, UK 0.
Top 2nd – Kole Cottam walked. Ryan Johnson reached on an error by the second baseman, with Cottam reaching second safely. Ben Aklinski doubled to RF, scoring Cottam and moving Johnson to third. Luke Heyer singled to LF, scoring Johnson and moving Aklinski to third. Trey Dawson hit a SAC fly, scoring Aklinski. Tristan Pompey doubled to LCF, scoring Heyer. Arkansas 7, UK 4.
Bottom 4th – Bonfield homered to LCF. Arkansas 8, UK 4.
Top 5th – Johnson singled and scored on Aklinski’s home run to LF. Arkansas 8, UK 6.
Bottom 5th – Shaddy doubled and scored on Biggers’ home run to RF. Cole singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, to third on a SAC fly and scored on Bonfield’s single to CF. Arkansas 11, UK 6.
Bottom 7th – Shaddy homered to RCF. Biggers singled and scored on Cole’s double. Martin homered to RF, scoring Cole. Bonfield and McFarland walked. Bonfield scored on Kjerstad’s SAC fly. Arkansas 16, UK 6.
Top 8th – Heyer singled to LF and scored on Pompey’s single to LF. Troy Squires singled to CF. Pompey scored on the CF’s two-base error with Squires advancing to third. Arkansas 16, UK 8.
Top 9th – T.J. Collett singled up the middle. Zeke Lewis ran for Collett, stole second and scored on Aklinski’s hit up the middle. Arkansas 16, UK 9.
Kentucky is 4-4 against ranked opponents this season.
The offense has …
o Hit a home run in 19 of 20 games this season.
The Cats have a number of players with impressive reached base safely streaks…
o Junior OF Tristan Pompey has reached in 50 of the last 52 games.
o Senior INF Luke Becker has reached in all 20 games.
o Junior OF Ben Aklinski has reached in 15 straight games.
o Senior C/1B Troy Squires has reached in 19 of 20 games this season.
o Sophomore DH T.J. Collett has reached in 18 of the past 19 games.
Junior C Marshall Gei recorded his first hit of the season and his first career stolen base.
Junior C/1B Kole Cottam
o Homered in the opener to give him home runs in back-to-back games.
o Had two hits in the opener for seventh multi-hit game of the season and 33rd of his career.
o Had two RBI in the opener for his seventh career multi-RBI game and 21st of his career.
Junior OF Ryan Johnson registered a hit in both games to give him a career-long six-game hit streak.