UK Baseball

UK was desperate for an SEC win. He stunned nation’s No. 4 team with a gem.

The University of Kentucky baseball team has endured a tough start to Southeastern Conference play this season, falling victim to a pair of sweeps in its first two league series as its pitching struggled.

On Friday night in Kentucky Proud Park, veteran hurler Zack Thompson took it upon himself to get the Cats into the SEC win column.

Thompson was masterful, tossing a complete-game shutout to lead UK to a 5-0 win over Georgia, evening the three-game series. The junior left-hander allowed only a pair of infield hits and struck out a career-high 13. He mowed down the Bulldogs (ranked No. 4 by and No. 11 in the coaches’ poll) in the final two innings, striking out the last six batters of the game.

Georgia Coach Scott Stricklin was impressed.

“Zack Thompson was really good,” Stricklin said. “He’s going to be a first-round pick and eventually pitch in the big leagues.”

Thompson was dialed-in from from the get-go, striking out four Bulldogs over the first two innings. The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third when Austin Schultz singled home Zeke Lewis and added three more runs in the fourth on two passed balls and a wild pitch. Dalton Reed added the final run in the bottom of the sixth with a single.

The Wildcats had five hits on the night, two of them coming from Reed. Breydon Daniel reached base three times and scored twice for Kentucky (16-11, 1-7 SEC). Schultz has now reached base safely in 17 straight games.

Thompson’s dominant performance came at a crucial moment for the Wildcats, who have been hemorrhaging runs in SEC play. Texas A&M outscored Kentucky 31-11 during last weekend’s series in Lexington. Georgia (22-5, 6-2 SEC) topped UK 7-3 in Friday’s series opener. The Cats will look to lock up their first SEC series win of the year in Saturday’s rubber match, with first pitch scheduled for 10 a.m.

Next game

Kentucky vs. Georgia

At Kentucky Proud Park

Saturday, 10 a.m.