UK Baseball

T.J. Collett continues his power surge as UK baseball completes sweep of Oakland

Kentucky designated hitter T.J. Collett was congratulated by teammates after hitting a two-run homer in the bottom of the second inning against Oakland. He has homered in four straight games.
Kentucky designated hitter T.J. Collett was congratulated by teammates after hitting a two-run homer in the bottom of the second inning against Oakland. He has homered in four straight games. cbertram@herald-leader.com

T.J. Collett homered for the fourth straight game and the Kentucky baseball team’s offense continued to pile up hits and runs as the Cats closed out a three-game series against Oakland (Mich.) with a 15-6 victory at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington.

UK (7-1) used 13 hits and 14 walks to produce double-digit runs for the third game in a row. The Cats defeated Oakland 10-1 and 17-6 in the first two games of their weekend sweep.

Five Cats racked up multiple hits Sunday with Kole Cottam leading the way with three. Ryan Johnson knocked in four runs.

Collett is the first UK player to homer in four straight games since All-American Sawyer Carroll did so in a four-game series against Butler in 2008. Collett is batting .344 with five home runs and 17 RBI through eight games.

Collett said Saturday that shortening up his batting stance has helped him at the plate.

“It’s amazing what happens when you listen to your coaches,” he said.

Kentucky Coach Nick Mingione said that change is only part of what has led to Collett’s success.

“He also made a change to his body over the break,” Mingione said Saturday. “He did extra conditioning every day but Christmas, so he’s made a commitment not only mentally but physically and it’s paying off for him.”

Junior right-hander Justin Lewis picked up his second win in two starts. His 11 strikeouts Sunday were a career high. He pitched six innings and gave up four earned runs on five hits and one walk.

Troy Squires, who batted lead-off all weekend with All-American Tristan Pompey sidelined by an ankle injury, drove in a pair of runs. All eight of his RBI this season came in the series against Oakland.

Luke Heyer hit his fourth home run of the season. He is tied for second on the team with Cottam with 10 RBI.

Johnson, whose home run Sunday was the first of his collegiate career, leads the Cats with a .391 batting average. Ben Aklinski is second at .387, followed by Cottom (.367) and Luke Becker (.355).

Next up for UK is a home game against Western Kentucky on Tuesday. The Hilltoppers (5-3) won the first three games of a weekend series against Northern Illinois before losing 5-0 on Sunday.

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Kentucky starter Justin Lewis delivered a pitch to Oakland infielder Ben Hart in the top of the first inning. His 11 strikeouts Sunday were a career high. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

Notes

▪  Kentucky improved to 23-2 in non-conference home games under Mingione.

▪  The UK offense has hit a home run in all eight games this season.

▪  Becker became the 50th player in program history to reach 100 career hits. He has team-high six doubles this season.

▪  Lewis and Sean Hjelle both won their first starts and are 2-0. Hjelle has a 0.66 ERA in 13 2/3 innings and Lewis’ ERA is 3.00 in 12 innings. Lewis has 20 strikeouts and Hjelle has 16.

Dennis Varney: 859-231-3514, @ExCats

Next game

Western Kentucky at Kentucky

4 p.m. Tuesday (SEC Network Plus)

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