Cottam Extends Career-Long Hitting Streak
No. 16 Kentucky stymied in series opener at Vanderbilt
By Matt May
NASHVILLE – Kole Cottam extended his career-long hitting streak to 16 games but that was about all No. 16 Kentucky could muster against Vanderbilt ace Drake Fellows, falling 8-1 in the opener of a regular season-ending series at Hawkins Field.
A pregame storm led to a wet and gray night in the Music City, which began with the Wildcats waiting out a lightning delay on the team bus. From there, they were handcuffed by Fellows’ career effort, giving up just one hit through the first six innings without walking a batter. Ultimately, the Cats tallied three hits but were done in by 16 groundballs in 7.1 innings against the sophomore right-hander.
A two-out RBI double by Tristan Pompey in the eighth inning pushed the Cats’ streak of not being shut out to 61 consecutive games and 137 of the past 138 games overall. The junior outfielder continues to heat up down the stretch with six doubles, two home runs and nine RBI in the past six games. Senior infielder/outfielder Luke Heyer also reached base for the 16th straight game and 21st time in the last 22 games overall.
Junior right-hander Sean Hjelle was undone by a three-run fifth inning but otherwise had a terrific outing. He struck out nine and gave the Cats’ short-handed pitching staff six quality innings on a career-high 123 pitches with Friday’s starter still the be determined.
The loss dropped the Cats to 34-19 overall and 13-15 in Southeastern Conference play but they can still win the series over the next two days to bolster their SEC Tournament seeding and potential to host an NCAA Regional.
Bottom 1st – Austin Martin walked to leadoff the game and stole second. Philip Clarke doubled to RF, scoring Martin. Vandy 1, UK 0.
Bottom 5th – Martin singled up the middle and scored on Clarke’s double to LCF. Connor Kaiser singled to RF, scoring Clarke. Stephen Scott doubled into RF corner to score Kaiser and advanced to third on fielding error by RF. Vandy 4, UK 0.
Bottom 7th – Kaiser walked and scored on Pat DeMarco’s home run the LF. Vandy 6, UK 0.
Top 8th – Ben Aklinski singled to LF, advanced to second on a wild pitch and third on Zeke Lewis’ groundout. Tristian Pompey doubled into the RF corner to score Aklinski. Vandy 6, UK 1.
Bottom 8th – Julian Infante singled to LF and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Martin walked. Clarke singled to RF, scoring Infante. Kaiser singled to LF, scoring Martin. Vandy 8, UK 1.
Kentucky has scored in 61 consecutive games and 137 of the past 138 dating to the 2016 season. The lone shutout came in a seven-inning game.
· Several Cats extended impressive reached base safely streaks …
o Junior C/1B Kole Cottam has reached safely in 16 straight games, has hits in 27 of the past 29 games and is riding a career-long 16-game hit streak.
o Senior INF/OF Luke Heyer has reached in 16 straight games and 21 of the last 22 games.
· Junior OF Tristan Pompey went 1-for-4 with an RBI double.
o He has 19 doubles this season and 44 for his career.
o He now has 191 career hits, four behind AJ Reed (2012-14) for 17th on UK’s all-time list.
o Pompey has three doubles and a home run in two games this week.
o In the past six games he has six doubles, two home runs and nine RBI.