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UK records rare triple play, fends off late rally in 11-7 victory over instate rival Louisville


Playing in front of a record crowd, No. 10 Kentucky came out of the gates with a five-run first inning on the way to an 11-7 victory over No. 2 Louisville in the first of four games against Top 10 opponents this week at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
 
The Cats (26-12, 10-5 SEC) blitzed their in-state rival for 11 runs in the first four innings, igniting the Cliff Hagan record crowd of 4,018 fans. Five consecutive RBI singles in the first inning and a four-run third capped by senior Connor Heady’s home run provided most of the damage at the plate but it was a defensive play that left everyone buzzing.

UK senior Connor Heady celebrate after hitting a two-run home run in the third inning Tuesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium (UK Athletics Photo)

The Cardinals (31-5) put their first two hitters on base in the second inning before the Cats extricated themselves from the potential jam in the most exciting way possible. With runners on second and third, Colin Lyman lifted a fly ball to left that Zack Reks caught and fired home to nail Brendan McKay, who tagged up on the play, at the plate. UK catcher Troy Squires made the tag and quickly fired to third where Heady – the UK shortstop – had covered and gloved Drew Ellis before he reached the bag, executing a rare triple play.
 
The triple play is the only known one in school history.
 
Kentucky survived a Louisville rally in the middle innings, as the Cardinals scored two in the fifth and five in the seventh before righties Chris Machamer and Zach Pop threw water on the flames. Closer Logan Salow came in and recorded the final three outs to end a six-game losing streak in the series, including a 5-3 defeat at Louisville on April 4.

At the plate: The Wildcats scored 11 runs on 14 hits with just five strikeouts against the Louisville pitching staff. Tyler Marshall went 3-for-4 at the plate, with two RBI and a run while Troy Squires went 2-for-4 with three runs and one RBI. Kentucky started the game hot. Six Cats made it on base safely in the first inning, which opened up the floodgates for the five runs that started the game. UK added four more runs in the third inning, two to the credit of Connor Heady when he homered over the leftfield wall. UK plated two more runs on three hits in the fourth inning.

On the mound: Through his five innings of work and fourth win of his young career, Zack Thompson allowed just three hits and struck out seven – just one from his career-high of eight that he’s reached on three different occasions this season. The freshman didn’t give up a run until he already struck out two Cardinals swinging in the top of the fifth inning. Chris Machamer picked up a strikeout in his two innings pitched, while Zach Pop picked up two in his only inning. To no surprise, Logan Salow came on in the ninth and closed things out for the Cats.

On deck: Kentucky opens a series with No. 8 LSU at Cliff Hagan Stadium on Friday at 6:30 p.m. Fans can listen on the UK Sports Network via UKathletics.com and iHeart Radio, as well as on 630 AM WLAP and watch on SEC Network Plus.

From UK Athletics


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