Cats ride freshmen relievers to sweep of Louisville, 4-2

mmaloney@herald-leader.comApril 15, 2014 

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    Kentucky — Friday at Texas A&M, 7:35 p.m.

    Louisville — Thursday at Central Florida, 6:30 p.m.

LOUISVILLE — To see how Kentucky edged Louisville 4-2 Tuesday, just look to the bullpen at Jim Patterson Stadium.

Backed by a solid defense, freshmen Logan Salow and Zack Brown combined to throw six innings of shutout relief, and Kyle Cody came on in the ninth to nail down his third save.

The 19th-ranked Wildcats (24-13) thus swept the season series. UK won 8-3 on its home field on April 1.

"It's good to win," UK Coach Gary Henderson said. "It's a game we want to win every year, just like they do. It's a rivalry game. It's not more important than a league game ... but we're very glad to win."

No. 10 U of L (27-9) had been 21-0 when outhitting opponents this season. Make it 21-1 after the Cards collected eight hits to UK's five.

The first of UK's hits helped account for the first run of the game.

Micheal Thomas, who was hit by a pitch, scored when Thomas Bernal hit a sinking liner to center for a base hit. Center fielder Logan Taylor, who trapped the ball, tried to sell a catch by firing to first in an attempt to double off Thomas. The throw got away for an error, allowing Thomas to score.

U of L got to Wildcats starter Ryne Combs for two runs in the third, loading the bases with none out.

A Cole Sturgeon walk forced in a run. Salow replaced Combs and held the Cards to one run, which scored on a fielder's choice.

Salow would go on to toss 32⁄3 innings, scattering five hits while fanning three.

"All Logan did was throw strikes and that was it," Henderson said. "And that's all we needed to do. We needed to throw strikes, and if we did that we were going to play enough defense behind him to make it work."

"That's what we try to come in and do (is throw strikes) and keep it down as much as possible," Salow said. "But I got hit pretty hard tonight. It was all about the defense backing me up."

UK took the lead for keeps with two runs in the fourth.

A.J. Reed walked, took second on a passed ball and scored when second baseman Zach Lucas booted Ka'ai Tom's grounder for an error.

A hit batsman and Kyle Barrett's single loaded the bases, and JaVon Shelby drew a walk to force in a run.

Salow ran into trouble after retiring the first two batters in the sixth. A pair of singles led Henderson to call for Brown.

A walk loaded the bases, but Brown escaped by getting Sutton Whiting to fly to left. Brown has been getting better game-by-game, Henderson said. Brown's secret? "Just coming in and being confident, and thinking I'm going to succeed."

UK added a run in the ninth. Reed reached on a two-out, two-base error — the Cards' fourth error of the game. Pinch-runner Marcus Carson came around on a pair of passed balls.

In the bottom of the ninth, Brown issued a leadoff walk and was replaced by Cody.

Cody struck out Whiting, then gave up a single to Sturgeon to put runners on the corners. Pinch-hitter Danny Rosenbaum grounded into a game-ending double play.

"How about our bullpen?" Henderson said. "Well, that's six innings of freshman pitching, and that's significant on the road, there's no question about that. So those kids are getting better. Zack Brown is really getting better. ... Great job by Salow, outstanding by Zack Brown and then, obviously bringing Kyle Cody in there, the matchup was good for us at that point. But he's still got to come through, he's got to do it. And he did."

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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