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Kentucky belts 7 homers in rout of Xavier

CINCINNATI – In the city where the Big Red Machine once was an offensive juggernaut, the Big Blue Bombers took center stage as No. 6 Kentucky bashed its way to a 20-4 victory over Xavier on Tuesday at Hayden Field. The game was called after eight innings due to darkness.

The 20 runs are the most the Wildcats have scored since posting 26 against Ball State on March 9, 2014.

The Cats (15-6) belted seven home runs in the game, including two each by junior Kole Cottam and senior Luke Heyer. They were joined by junior Ben Aklinski, senior Luke Becker and junior T.J. Collett in the home run parade as the Cats’ prolific offense continued to pile up runs. Aklinski, Collett and Heyer each drove in at least four runs.

Coming off a tough weekend at Arkansas to begin Southeastern Conference play and with a third straight weekend against a top 10 opponent looming, the Cats avenged an earlier extra-inning loss to Xavier by jumping on the Musketeers early and often. After seeing a 5-1 lead sliced to 5-4 the Cats dropped eight runs in the fifth inning and another six in the seventh to get back on the winning track.

Cottam has been particularly hot of late, homering in three of the past four games, while Aklinski has now gone deep in back-to-back outings. The Cats are the only team in the country with three players who have at least nine home runs.

The Cats return to Lexington and host No. 9 Auburn in a three-game weekend series beginning Friday at Cliff Hagan Stadium. First pitch will be at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.

SCORING

Top 1st – Tristan Pompey walked and scored on Troy Squires’ RBI double off the RCF wall. UK 1, Xavier 0.

Bottom 1st – Ryan Altenberger singled and stole second. Joe Gellenbeck grounded out, moving Altenberger to third. Altenberger scored on a wild pitch. UK 1, Xavier 1.

Top 3rd – Kole Cottam hit a leadoff home run. Alex Rodriguez walked and moved to third on Pompey’s single to RF. Squires grounded out to 1B, scoring Rodriguez. Ben Aklinski homered to LF. UK 4, Xavier 1.

Top 4th – T.J. Collett homered to RF. UK 5, Xavier 1.

Bottom 4th – Gellenbeck doubled to RF. Conor Grammes was hit by a pitch. Chris Givin singled to CF, scoring Gellenbeck and moving Grammes to third. Natale Monastra singled through the right side of the infield, scoring Grammes and moving Givin to third. Matt Warkentin singled through the left side, scoring Givin and advancing Monastra to second. UK 5, Xavier 4.

Top 5th – Rodriguez walked, Ryan Shinn and Squires were both hit by pitches to load the bases. Aklinski singled to LF, scoring Rodriguez and Shinn. Luke Becker walked. T.J. Collett singled through the right side, scoring Squires and Aklinski. Luke Heyer homered to RF, scoring Becker and Collett. Cottam homered to CF. UK 13, Xavier 4.

Top 6th – Becker walked and advanced to both second and third on wild pitches. Collett singled up the middle to score Becker. UK 14, Xavier 4.

Top 7th – Cottam singled and Rodriguez walked. Squires grounded out to move both runners up. Aklinski singled, scoring both Cottam and Rodriguez. Becker homered to RF. Collett singled and scored on Heyer’s home run. UK 20, Xavier 4.

NOTES

  • The offense has …

o   Hit a home run in 20 of 21 games this season.

o   Hit .321 as a team through 21 games

o   Racked up 98 extra-base hits

o   Slugged .571 as a team

o   Has eight lineup regulars hitting over .300

o   Team on-base percentage of .433

o   Have eight regular starters with OBPs over .400

 

  • The Cats have a number of players with impressive reached base safely streaks…

o   Junior OF Tristan Pompey has reached in 51 of the last 53 games.

o   Senior INF Luke Becker has reached in all 21 games.

o   Junior OF Ben Aklinski has reached in 16 straight games.

o   Senior C/1B Troy Squires has reached in 20 of 21 games this season.

o   Sophomore DH T.J. Collett has reached in 19 of the past 20 games.

 

  • Junior C/1B Kole Cottam went 3-for-4 with three runs, four RBI and two home runs.

o   He has homered in three of the past four games, with four total blasts.

o   He tied his career-high for runs, RBI and hits in the game.

o   He has eight multi-hit games this season and 34 for his career.

o   He has eight career multi-RBI game and 23 for his career.

o   His nine home runs already are a single-season career-high.

 

  • Junior OF Ben Aklinski went 3-for-5 with three runs, five RBI and a home run.

o   The five RBI are a career-high.

o   He tied his career high with three runs and three hits.

o   Aklinski has homered in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.

o   He has nine multi-hit games this season.

o    

 

  • Senior IF/OF Luke Heyer went 2-for-5 with two runs, five RBI and two home runs.

o   Set a new career-high with five RBI.

o   Heyer now has a career-high 10 home runs on the season.

o   He now has nine multi-hit games this season and 13 for his career.

o   He has seven multi-RBI games this season and nine for his career.

 

  • Sophomore DH T.J. Collett went 4-for-5 with three runs, four RBI and a home run.

o   Collett now has nine home runs on the season.

o   Set a career-high for runs with three.

o   Tied his career-high for hits with four.

o   He now has eight multi-hit games this season.

o   He now has nine multi-RBI games this season and 11 for his career.

 

  • Junior IF Alex Rodriguez walked four times and scored three runs.

o   Rodriguez is the first UK player to walk four times in a game since Andy Burns did so on May 3, 2009 vs. Tennessee.

o   Set a new career-high with three runs scored.

 

 

 

ON DECK

The Cats return to Lexington and host No. 9 Auburn in a three-game weekend series beginning Friday at Cliff Hagan Stadium. First pitch will be at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.

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