Saturday finally brought weather that actually felt like baseball weather. After two relatively cold nights with two brutal losses versus the #1 Florida Gators, a little warmth was a welcome change. It also didn’t hurt to have 4,461 fans in the stands, the 2nd largest regular-season crowd in program history.
Justin Lewis entered the game 6-2 (4.64 ERA) and it appeared as though the Cats were in for more of the same punishment they’d endured the past 2 days when Lewis gave up a double, walked a batter, and then hit Jonathan India to load the bases with no outs. But just as fans were bracing for a scoring spree by the Gators, Lewis settled in and struck out 2 batters and ended the inning as Langworthy popped up.
For the first time in the series, the Cats struck first when 2 walks by Dyson put Pompey in position to score when Heyer grounded out to the shortstop. Meanwhile, Lewis continued his mastery of the Florida batters and held them scoreless and frustrated through 4 innings.
The Cats, however, continued with a steady stream of hits and added 1 run each in the 2nd and 3rd innings to extend their lead to 3-0. Dyson was removed from the game and Florida brought in Leftwich from the bullpen. While Leftwich held the Cats scoreless for 5 innings, Kentucky’s bats seemed so much more effective than they had on Thursday and Friday.
Florida managed to score a run in the 5th after a throwing error on a routine grounder allowed Horvath to score from 3rd. It was a balk by Lewis that had moved Horvath to 3rd, so it had to be a perfect storm for the Gators’ lone run to that point.
Lewis lasted 8 innings and recorded 11 strikeouts before calling it a day. Chris Machamer came on in the 9th to close out the game and retired India and Dalton quickly before giving up a solo homer to Schwarz, bringing the Gators within 1 run at 3-2. But that was as close as they got as Langworthy grounded out to end the game.
Justin Lewis talks to the media after the game:
After the game, Lewis was all smiles, obviously very pleased with his gutsy performance. Coach Nick Mingione was also very bubbly and heaped praise on the BBN for their incredible support, especially in the 9th inning. As he has said numerous times this year, “The strength of our team is our team,” and this game was no exception as it required contributions from everyone, not just Justin.
So it was a good day for the Cats, but let’s face it. Any time you can beat the #1 team in the country, it is a very good day!
Next up: Morehead State 6:30 pm, Wednesday
Next weekend: Missouri comes to The Cliff, Friday, Saturday & Sunday.
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