With the goal of a trip to Omaha and the program’s first College World Series a realistic one this spring, the UK baseball team will be in Lexington this weekend for its first home series of the season.
The Cats (4-1) host Oakland University (1-4) for three games starting Friday, and they’ll hope to bounce back from Tuesday night’s extra-innings loss to Xavier in what was the final home opener at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky came into the week ranked by Baseball America as the No. 8 team in the country.
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Friday: 4 p.m. (SEC Network Plus, WBUL-FM 98.5)
Saturday: 1 p.m. (SEC Network Plus, WLAP-AM 630)
Sunday: 1 p.m. (SEC Network Plus, WBUL-FM 98.5)
At the plate
▪ Unsurprisingly, junior outfielder Tristan Pompey has been the Cats’ hottest bat this season. The returning star has a slash line of .476/.542/.762 with one homer and three RBI through UK’s first five games
▪ T.J. Collett and Luke Heyer lead the Cats with two home runs each, and Collett has a team-high seven RBI in five starts, including a solo homer Tuesday night against Xavier.
▪ Newcomer and former junior-college All-American Ben Aklinski has acclimated well early on, hitting .333 with a home run and three RBI in five starts in center field.
On the mound
Returning weekend starters Justin Lewis and Sean Hjelle — the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Year — didn’t disappoint in their first starts of the season last weekend. Lewis threw six scoreless innings (with nine strikeouts and just two hits allowed) in UK’s win over South Carolina-Upstate, and Hjelle gave up just two hits and one run in six innings, picking up the victory against Wofford.
The Golden Grizzlies finished fifth in the Horizon League last season and come to Lexington off a 13-8 loss at UNC-Greensboro on Tuesday. Senior first baseman Ben Hart has been Oakland’s top hitter this season with a .353/.455/.824 slash line, two of the team’s three home runs and a team-high six RBI in five games.
Oakland’s only other starter with a batting average over .300 is sophomore shortstop Tyler Trovinger, who’s hitting .316 with four RBI.
The Golden Grizzlies’ lone win this season came against Old Dominion.
Friday: RHP Sean Hjelle (1-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. RHP Jake Lee (0-1, 4.91 ERA)
Saturday: LHP Zack Thompson (0-0, 16.87 ERA) vs. RHP Nick Parr (0-0, 3.86 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Justin Lewis (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP Conor Bowers (0-1, 4.50 ERA)
UK’s pitchers are based on last weekend and subject to change.
Advance tickets are available through Ticketmaster.com. Game-day sales are available two hours before first pitch at the Cliff Hagan Stadium box office.