LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Junior Trevor Gott recorded his 16th career save to break the all-time Kentucky record and senior Zac Zellers belted a two-run homer, leading the ninth-ranked Wildcats to a 6-3 win over Ohio, on a Tuesday evening at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Gott, who tied the record held by Lorhn Frazier (1990-93) with his 15th career save on Sunday vs. Michigan State, came on to get the final two outs of the game to move into sole possession of first place in the 117-year history of the UK baseball program.
“It is an honor, all the good arms that have thrown here, even to be mentioned in that category is an honor,” Gott said about breaking the record.
In his three-year career, Gott has a 7-4 record, a 2.49 ERA and has saved 16 of 17 games, striking out 83 in 61.1 innings. In his 16 career saves, Gott has worked 17.1 innings, allowed only four hits and three walks, striking out 25.
“There is some comfort in there from a coaching perspective,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said about Gott. “There is some real confidence from a player perspective. It has been really fun to watch him and he keeps getting better.”
The 2010 Gatorade Kentucky High School Player of the Year out of Lexington’s Tates Creek High School, Gott has a 2-0 record in his eight relief appearances in 2013, tossing nine shutout innings, allowing only four singles and two walks, striking out 11. The six-foot, 190-pound right-hander notched his fifth save in five chances in 2013.
“Any time you are coaching kids and they continue to get better it is a fun thing to be a part of and he certainly has,” Henderson said about Gott’s development. “Better pitches, better command, much more efficient, his poise is really good. He has learned the game the way you are supposed to when you hang around for three years. He has done a really nice job and he is going to keep getting better. It is nice to have him back there.”
Kentucky (14-2) picked up the win behind the strength of a four-run second inning and a two-run third – which included Zellers’ first homer of the year and the sixth of his two-year career.
UK collected nine hits in the game, as seven of UK’s nine position starters collected base knocks. Zellers and freshman Kyle Barrett notched UK’s two-hit games. Austin Cousino, J.T. Riddle, Max Kuhn, A.J. Reed and Zach Arnold each had hits, with Arnold’s RBI knock coming as his first career hit. Kuhn stretched his streak of reaching base safely to 16 games with his team-high fifth double of the year and Reed and Riddle each added two-walk games.
The Wildcats staffed 8.1 innings of the game behind its freshmen pitchers, before Gott came on to record the historic save.
“Any time you go 8.1 (innings) of freshmen pitching and get a win, it is good in that respect,” Henderson said. “Nice to see Trevor come in and set the record but really happy with the three freshmen pitchers, who overall did a nice job today.”
Kentucky freshman lefty starter Ryne Combs worked a career-high four innings in his second career start, allowing five hits and one run, walking one and striking out three. After a leadoff walk in the fifth, Combs was relieved by freshman Tyler Cox, who got out of the middle-inning jam and worked a career-high two innings, allowing three hits and two runs, striking out three. Freshman Zach Strecker (1-0) worked a career-long 2.1 innings, allowing a single and striking out one in his first career win.
Ohio (3-11) starter Sean Kennedy (2-1) worked 2.2 innings, allowing seven hits and six runs, walking four and striking out two. Brad Prezeieda came on in relief and ate up three shutout innings in the middle frames, allowing only one walk and striking out three. Brett Barber and Logan Cozart each worked scoreless relief outings, with Barber getting four outs.
UK will return to action on Wednesday, hosting Cincinnati at 4 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on WWTF 1580-AM and online at UKathletics.com. UK will send freshman right-hander Kyle Cody (1-0, 7.00 ERA) to the mound for his third career start.
Following a scoreless inning and a half, Kentucky opened the scoring with four spot in the bottom half of the second inning. Barrett and Zellers opened the inning with consecutive singles through the left side. Matt Reida dropped down a sacrifice bunt, moving Barrett and Zellers to second and third with one out. Arnold knocked a liner down the rightfield line, scoring Barrett, with a throwing error allowed Zellers to score and Arnold to advance to second. Following a fly out, consecutive doubles from Riddle and Kuhn scored Arnold and then Riddle, bumping Kentucky’s lead to 4-0 through two.
After a third scoreless inning for Combs in the top of the third, Barrett recorded his second hit of the day and Zellers brought him home with a two-run homer over the leftfield wall, his first home run of the year.
Combs surrendered his first run in the top of the fourth as Tyler Wells singled through the left side for Ohio and Jake Madsen followed with a single past Reed into rightfield. A sacrifice bunt put the two runners in scoring position. Scott White delivered an infield single deep in the six hole, scoring Wells but Reida’s diving stop prevented Madsen from scoring. A botched squeeze attempt and a strike out enabled Combs to get out of the inning with only one run allowed and Kentucky leading 6-1.
The Bobcats added two runs in the top of the sixth, with the rally sparked by a leadoff infield single from Madsen. Cody Gaertner singled through the left side to give Ohio runners on second and third before Kentucky reliever Tyler Cox struck out White for the first out of the inning. Cox let one slip and hit Kyle Dean, loading the bases with one out. Ben Otto delivered for the Bobcats, singling into left to score Gaertner and Madsen. A ground and strike out left two stranded but Ohio had lessened the lead to 6-3.