LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kole Cottam crushed a two-run home run in the first at bat of his return to his hometown but that’s all the offense No. 11 Kentucky could muster in a 6-2 defeat at Tennessee.
The Cats fell to 29-16 overall and 10-12 in Southeastern Conference play with just eight league games remaining, leaving the club in the scrum to make it to Hoover at the end of the month. The Volunteers crept within a game of UK in the standings with the win, erasing a 2-0 deficit after Cottam’s home run.
UK starter Sean Hjelle was victimized by the Volunteers’ swinging early in the count, giving up five runs – four earned – in 5.2 innings of work. The Cats’ normally steady defense had an off night as well with two errors and several mental miscues that turned into Tennessee runs.
Cottam got the game started on the right foot, hammering a 3-2 pitch over the picnic area beyond the left field wall for his 16th home run of the season. The blast drew a huge response from the more than 30 family and friends the junior had in attendance while playing down the road from his family’s home.
Tennessee right-hander David Linginfelter, who was 2-4 with an earned run average of 4.34, coming in, retired 11 hitters in a row and allowed just two hits after entering the game in relief of starter Will Heflin in the third inning. The Cats loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth but could not push across the tying runs.
The border rivals will meet again Saturday evening at 6 p.m. ET at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The game will be streamed on the SEC Network+ and can be heard on the radio at 630 AM WLAP.
Top 1st – Troy Squires walked and scored on Kole Cottam’s home run to LCF. UK 2, UT 0.
Bottom 2nd – Andre Lipcius bounced a ball through the right side and moved to second on Brodie Leftridge’s groundout. Evan Russell singled to LF, scoring Lipcius. UK 2, UT 1.
Bottom 3rd – Brandon Chinea reached on an infield hit to 3B and advanced to second on Justin Ammons’ single to CF. Pete Derkay walked to load the bases. Lipcius singled to RF, scoring Chinea with Ammons thrown out at the plate. UK 2, UT 2.
Bottom 5th – Jay Charleston struck out but reached first on a wild pitch. He advanced to second on an errant pickoff throw by the pitcher. Ammons tripled to RF, scoring Charleston. Lipcius singled to RF, scoring Ammons. UT 4, UK 2.
Bottom 6th – Benito Santiago singled to LF, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Nico Mascia’s soft single to RF. UT 5, UK 2.
Bottom 7th – Lipcius homered to LF. UT 6, UK 2.
- Kentucky has scored in 53 consecutive games and 129 of the past 130 dating to the 2016 season. The lone shutout came in a seven-inning game.
- Several Cats extended impressive reached base safely streaks …
o Senior INF Luke Becker has reached in 44 of 45 games (and 88 of 89 including 2017 summer ball).
o Junior C/1B Kole Cottam has reached safely in 15 straight games and has hits in 19 of the past 21 games.
o Junior INF Trey Dawson has now reached base safely in 15 of his last 16 games.
o Senior INF/OF Luke Heyer has reached in eight straight games and 13 of the last 14 games.
- Junior C/1B Kole Cottam went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run.
o Cottam’s home run in the first gave him a career-long eight-game hitting streak.
o Cottam has 24 extra-base hits this season.
o Cottam has homered at least once in seven of the eight SEC weekend series and 11 of 12 weekend series overall.
o Cottam now has a team-high 20 multi-hit games this season and 46 for his career.
o He has 13 multi-RBI games this season and 28 for his career.