[Moderated by Matt Jones]
Sam Mahar made the most of his first start as he threw six shutout innings, allowed just two hits, and retired 18 of the 20 batters he faced. Austin Cousino celebrated his 19th birthday with a towering blast over the right-field fence in UK’s leadoff at bat as the Cats shutout the Bearcats, limiting them to just four hits.
Cousino jumpstarted the Wildcat offence with his sixth homerun of the year and said after the game that he “wanted to get a bunt single and a homerun” on his birthday. He fouled off the first pitch of the inning on a bunt attempt before sending a 2-1 fastball toward the football practice fields. Even though he did not get his bunt single, Cousino said that he “wasn’t going to complain about the outcome of the at-bat.”
Luke Maile would follow Cousino’s blast with his team leading 10th homerun of the season over the leftfield wall as he had another stellar day against the Bearcats. A.J. Reed would knock in Matt Reida on a fielder’s choice in the third to give the Cats a 3-0 lead. UK would break the game open in the fourth by scoring three runs and sending all nine batters to the plate. Matt Reida drove in his fellow middle infielder, J.T Riddle, on a sacrifice fly to center while Thomas McCarthy singled in Austin Cousino and Michael Williams to give the Cats a 6-0 cushion. Riddle would cap the night offensively for the Cats in the fifth with a solo homerun halfway into the parking lot.
Cousino said that Mahar was nervous in the locker room before the game. If he was, it didn’t show as he dominated the game from the start including striking out two of the first three batters he faced. Coach Gary Henderson said that Mahar “did a really good job throwing first pitch strikes” and that he “threw three pitches for strikes.” Henderson added that he was not going to name Mahar the starter for the next midweek game but added that he will pitch again, possibly this weekend. The Cats would use four relievers over last three innings, including a one inning outing from Chandler Shepherd, and a perfect ninth inning by Walter Wijas to hold the Bearcats scoreless.
Next up for the Cats will be the LSU Tigers who are tied with UK atop the SEC leaderboard. Henderson tried to downplay the significance of the series saying “It’s just another weekend” and that “they are all big.” The three game set against the Tigers will determine the top team in the SEC, maybe in the country, with first pitch set for 6:30pm Friday. The first two games of the series will be televised in Lexington and Louisville as well as Fox Sports South (depending on the Predators- Redwings game).
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