LEXINGTON, Ky. – After demolishing the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks to the tune of 27-0 on Saturday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium, the No. 17 Kentucky baseball team improved to 15-0, tying the 2000 club for the best start in the 103-year history of the Wildcat baseball program.
Kentucky carried a combined no-hitter 8 1/3 innings, before surrendering a single under the glove of UK’s diving shortstop Brian Spear. Two Wildcat freshman pitchers combined to handcuff the Skyhawks, with starter Duran Ferguson working six innings without allowing a hit, before handing it over to fellow right-handerClint Tilford, who worked the final three innings to finish the game. Ferguson improved to 1-0 on the season.
The Wildcats 27-run win ranks first in school annals, previously held by the 1983 club, which defeated Cincinnati by 25 runs in 1983 and the 27 runs scored ranks second in school history for the most runs scored in a contest. Kentucky’s 27-run performance brings the total runs scored up to 185, after setting the school record with runs scored in 2006, with 500. Through 15 games last season, Kentucky had scored 142 runs.
UK has now won 25 consecutive regular season home games, dating back to last season. The streak is the longest home winning streak in school history and the longest current regular season streak in all of college baseball.
On Sunday, Kentucky will return to action looking to take sole possession of the school record and improve to 16-0. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. ET and UK will run out preseason All-American right-hander Greg Dombrowski to the hill to face off with UTM’s Jacob Smothers.
Kentucky got stellar performances from nearly every player on the UK roster, as every starter had a base hit and scored at least one run. Mike Brown continued his hot play, batting 3-for-6 with three RBI, scoring twice. Brown has now batted 19-for-30 over the last eight Kentucky games.
Sawyer Carroll, Brian Spear and Tyler Howe each contributed three hits, while Carroll and Antone DeJesus drove in four runs each. Howe had a perfect day at the plate, drawing three walks and batting 3-for-3, scoring three runs. Spear and Ryan Wilkes each scored three times and Matt McKinney added two runs and two RBI. Sean Coughlin finished his day 2-for-4 with two RBI and one walk.
Kentucky got the scoring started in the first inning, plating two runs on two hits. Mike Brown led off the inning with a single and DeJesus drew a walk setting the stage for Carroll. The Henryetta, Okla. native delivered his SEC-leading 10th double of the season, to plate Brown and DeJesus and give UK an early 2-0 lead.
In the second, UK continued to pile it on, plating six runs on four hits to go up 8-0. Wilkes led off with a walk, Grace reached on a fielder’s choice, and Howe laid down a bunt single to load the bases. Mike Brown ripped a sacrifice fly, just deep enough to score Wilkes. DeJesus singled and scored Grace. Carroll drove in yet another run with an RBI single, this time scoring Howe. Coughlin drew a walk and McKinney lofted a sacrifice fly to score DeJesus. Brian Spear promptly cleared the bases with a two-run double, to give UK a 8-0 lead.
Continuing a trend of scoring each inning, Kentucky pushed across one more run on one base hit in the third. Grace drew a walk and Howe followed him with a line drive single through the left-side of the infield. Mike Brown drove in Grace with an RBI ground out, to stretch the UK lead to 9-0.
The Wildcats laid it on the Skyhawks with a 10-run inning in the fourth, the most runs scored in an inning this season. Kentucky sent 15 batters to the box during the frame, drawing five free passes, and reaching on six hits. McKinney led off the frame with a single and scored on a Spear double. Wilkes scored Spear with his own double, a beautiful rope down the right-field line. Howe and Mike Brown walked, and DeJesus got hit by a pitch to walk in Wilkes. Howe came around to score on a wild pitch. Coughlin ripped a single to score Brown and McKinney reached on a fielders choice that pushed DeJesus across the plate. Wilkes drove in his second RBI of the inning with a single that scored Carroll. Grace cleared the loaded bases with a three-run double.
In the fifth inning, UK scored six more times on five hits, leading off with DeJesus’s second walk of the day. Carroll plated him with his 11th double of the season. Coughlin ripped his second triple in as many days, to drive in Marcus Nidiffer, who pinch ran for Carroll. Dan Reale pinch ran for Coughlin and came around to score on a pinch-hit Anthony Ottrando double to the left-field gap. Spear and Wright walked and Howe drove in Ottrando with a sacrifice fly. Mike Brown loaded the bases with a single and DeJesus drove in two runs with a base-hit up the middle.
In the seventh, Kentucky pushed across one more run, after Howe doubled and Brown ripped an RBI single to score Howe and give UK a 26-0 lead.
Wildcat freshman outfielder Brock Wright tacked on one more run in the eighth, blasting his third home run of the season over the deck in right field for the final margin, 27-0.