The Sam Houston State University Bearkats baseball team came up short against the No. 7 University of Kentucky Wildcats Saturday in their second game of the Shriner’s College Classic at Minute Maid Park in Houston, dropping the contest 7-2.
The Bearkats fell to 7-3 in 2018, while the potent UK offense lifted the Wildcats’ overall record to 10-1. Both clubs were coming off exciting wins on Friday; SHSU had the exciting come-from-behind walk-off win over Vanderbilt, and UK defeated the University of Houston with ease 14-2.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hayden Wesneski took the mound for his third start of the season and battled against a relentless Wildcat offense. Wesneski hurled five innings, yielding three earned runs on seven hits. The big blow came on a two-run home run by senior infielder Luke Heyer in the bottom of the second inning.
“They were a very good team, plain and simple,” Wesneski said. “I wish I would have thrown more strikes, but I didn’t have my best stuff today. I plan on using [my slider] a lot this year, and it got me through this one.”
SHSU accumulated only three hits (all singles) through the first five innings as they were unable to push any runs across against UK’s talented starting pitcher—sophomore Zack Thompson. Thompson threw six scoreless innings, surrendering just four hits and striking out seven Bearkats.
“They have some great arms over there,” junior infielder Trey Ochoa said. “They’re tough to beat if you don’t jump on them early. They have breaking balls to go with their fastballs. It’s just tough.”
The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead and never gave it up. UK continued to pile on runs late in the game, and SHSU had trouble hitting with runners in scoring position for the first seven innings. The Kats eventually cracked the run column in the top of the eighth inning when junior infielder Andrew Fregia lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to close the gap to 5-1.
A pair of Wildcat runs in the bottom of the eighth pushed UK’s run total up to seven, and junior righty Zach Haake finished off the game for the Wildcats to close out a 7-2 victory.
“It’s a new day tomorrow,” head coach Matt Deggs said. “This is a marathon, not a sprint. Everybody here has really short memories. We’ll show back up ready for it.”
SHSU will be back in action Sunday at 2:30 p.m. to close out the College Classic against the No. 21 Mississippi State University Bulldogs. The game will be broadcast live on 90.5 KSHU-FM.