SEC doubleheaders have not been kind to the Wildcats this season.
After dropping both games of Saturday’s doubleheader, the ‘Cats are now 0-4 in doubleheader games with losses to Georgia and Texas A&M.
Where game one was disappointing, game two was right there for the taking. Taking a 7-6 lead into the bottom of the ninth, the intentional walk once again backfired on the ‘Cats. After an intentional walk of Dylan Crews in last Saturday’s loss to LSU led to the game winning run coming in for the Tigers, the same happened on Saturday night. With a runner on third and the Aggies down one, the ‘Cats intentionally walked Brett Minnich to get to Austin Bost, who was batting just .218 on the season. Bost ripped a two-run double to right center field, driving in two runs and delivering another brutal loss to the Wildcats.
When asked if their intentional walk philosophy changes after it has come back to haunt them twice as of late, coach Nick Mingione simply responded, “No, it doesn’t change at all.”
Game One Blues
Game one of the Saturday doubleheader was a major letdown for the ‘Cats. After an exciting 13-2 win over Xavier on Tuesday, the ‘Cats scored just three runs in this one, leaving 13 runners on base. Execution was poor to say the least.
Kentucky’s pitching was all over the place as Logan Martin, Ryder Giles, Darren Williams, and Seth Logue combined for as many walks as strikeouts with nine. Martin made his seventh start of the season, but lasted just two innings after walking five of the 11 batters he faced. After Ryder Giles covered the second inning after Martin was pulled, Darren Williams pitched the vast majority of this one. Williams lasted five innings, striking out five while allowing five hits.
This was a game of failed opportunities and bad breaks for Nick Mingione’s squad. This game could be summed up on one play; Jace LaViolette’s amazing home run robbery in the bottom of the seventh. Trailing 5-2, Hunter Gilliam launched a deep ball to left center field, looking for his third home run in his last three games. LaViolette timed it perfectly, leaped up, and took a run off the board from Kentucky. Back-to-back doubles from Jase Felker and Nolan McCarthy got at least one run in the inning for the ‘Cats, but it was definitely a missed opportunity.
Many fans were also against Nick Mingione’s second inning playcalling. With two outs and bases loaded, Ryan Waldschmidt, who entered Saturday with eight hits and six RBI in his last seven games, was given the bunt sign. Waldy laid down a bunt to the pitcher and was thrown out at first, ending the inning. The reliance on small ball has come back to haunt the ‘Cats recently.
Kentucky’s struggles against lefties this season continued when Evan Aschenbeck took over for starter Nathan Dettmer in the third inning. Aschenbeck spanned the middle innings for the Aggies, allowing just four hits and two runs over 4.1 IP. Lefties Brandyn Garcia and Will Johnston finished off the final 2.2 innings, allowing just one hit and striking out six combined batters.
Cats Drop Game Two in Brutal Fashion
Game two was a much better effort from the Bat ‘Cats. Just like game one however, control issues are a real problem for the Wildcat pitching staff right now. Tyler Bosma, Austin Strickland, and Mason Moore combined for seven walks in the game, five of which came from Moore. Moore had another not-so-great outing in game two, allowing four hits and four earned runs in 2.0 IP.
The offense came to life in game two. Reuben Church had one of his best games of the season going 2-4 on the night with a home run and three RBI. His sixth inning go-ahead home run was just his second of the season. Hunter Gilliam, who had been a hero for the ‘Cats all season, continued his clutch play in the bottom of the seventh. After having a big home run robbed in game one, Gilly delivered with a two-run single to center field putting Kentucky ahead. All was well until the bottom of the ninth.
With two outs in the inning, Minge intentionally walked Minnich leading Bost to hit the game-winning two-run double to right center field. Absolutely brutal turn of events. With the loss, Kentucky falls to 29-9 (10-7 SEC) on the season.
Game three between the ‘Cats and the Aggies is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. EST on Sunday.