Harper’s Breakout Performance, Opportunistic Offense Lead Cats
No. 6 Kentucky piles up 13 runs, Pompey, Kottam each double, single, knock in a run
By Matt May
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Daniel Harper turned in the best pitching performance of his young career and the offense continued to pile up runs as No. 6 Kentucky knocked off Miami (Ohio), 13-7, before a crowd on 3,032 on a windy Tuesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Harper, a freshman right-hander from Fairway, Kansas, pitched a career-high six innings in his sixth collegiate start, shutting out the RedHawks by pounding the lower quadrants of the strike zone. He retired the first 11 batters he faced on his way to not allowing a run on just three hits with six strikeouts on the night. He now owns a 23-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio for the season as the Wildcats’ mid-week starter.
The Cats (18-7) backed Harper’s effort with 10 runs before he left the game, including a five-run sixth inning where they did had just one hit and did not hit the ball out of the infield. It was just the second time in 25 games the Cats did not hit a home run but they still managed to score in five different innings, including three where at least three runs crossed the plate.
Despite allowing a seven-run seventh inning to Miami (13-8), mostly fueled by walks and wild pitches, redshirt freshman righty Carson Coleman showed his moxie by entering the dicey situation and getting out of the jam on his way to striking out four in 1.2 scoreless innings.
Offensively, a pair of junior outfielders each turned in career nights. Ryan Johnson went 4-for-5 with two runs, two RBI and a double, setting a new career-high for hits and Ben Aklinski went 3-for-3 with four runs, an RBI, two walks, a double and a steal, setting a career-high for runs scored.
Bottom 3rd – Kole Cottam hit by a pitch. Tristan Pompey lined a double into the LF corner, scoring Cottam from first. Ben Aklinski walked. Luke Becker doubled off the top of the RF wall, scoring Pompey and Aklinski. UK 3, Miami 0.
Bottom 4th – T.J. Collett singled up the middle. Cottam doubled to RCF. Trey Dawson grounded out to 2B, scoring Collett. UK 4, Miami 0.
Bottom 5th – Aklinski singled through the left side and stole second. Ryan Johnson singled to RF, scoring Aklinski. UK 5, Miami 0.
Bottom 6th – Dawson, Troy Squires and Aklinski walk to load the bases. Dawson scored on a wild pitch, moving other runners up. Squires scored on a wild pitch, moving Aklinski to third. Becker walked. Aklinski scored on a wild pitch, Becker to second. Johnson reached on an infield hit with Becker moving to third. Becker scored on a wild pitch with Johnson moving to third and scoring on the catcher’s overthrow of third. UK 10, Miami 0.
Top 7th – Landon Stephens walked. Brooks Urich bunted for a hit, moving Stephens to second. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Jordan Stephens walked to load the bases. Will Vogelgesang reached on an error by the pitcher, scoring L. Stephens. Adrian Texidor walked, scoring Urich. Kyle Winkler was hit by a pitch, scoring J. Stephens. Cal Elvers doubled down the LF line, scoring Vogelgesang, Texidor and Winkler. Ross Haffey doubled down the LF line, scoring Elvers. UK 10, Miami 7.
Bottom 8th – Pompey singled, advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on Aklinski’s double to RF. Aklinski advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Johnson’s doubled to LF. Luke Heyer singled to LF, scoring Johnson. UK 13, Miami 7.
The offense has …
o Hit a home run in 23 of 25 games this season.
o Racked up 114 extra-base hits
o Averaged 9.84 runs per game in 19 non-conference games this season.
· Several Cats extended impressive reached base safely streaks…
o Junior OF Tristan Pompey has reached in 55 of the last 57 games.
o Senior INF Luke Becker has reached in all 25 games.
o Senior C/1B Troy Squires has reached in 24 of 25 games this season.
o Junior OF Ben Aklinski has reached in 19 of the last 20 games.
o Sophomore DH T.J. Collett has reached in 22 of the past 24 games.
· Freshman RHP Daniel Harper went 6.0 innings, giving up just three hits, walking one and striking out six.
o The outing was the longest of his career.
o He retired the first 11 hitters of the game.
o Went 4.1 innings before allowing a hit.
o Now owns a 23-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio for the season.
· Junior OF Tristan Pompey went 2-for-4 with two runs, an RBI, a double, a walk and steal.
o He now has 10 doubles in 2018 and 36 for his career.
o Pompey now has seven multi-hit games this season and 41 in his career.
· Junior OF Ben Aklinski went 3-for-3 with four runs, an RBI, a double, a steal and two walks.
o The four runs scored are a new career-high.
o Aklinski has 11 multi-hit games at UK.
· Junior OF Ryan Johnson went 4-for-5 with two runs, two RBI and a double.
o The four hits are a new career-high.
o He now has seven multi-hit games at UK.
o He has four multi-RBI games at UK.
o He has nine doubles on the season.
The Cats resume SEC play this weekend with a trip to Alabama. Friday night’s game will start at 7 p.m. ET, Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. All three games will be streamed on SECN+ and Darren Headrick will have the radio call on 630 AM WLAP.