Hurts so good: UK rides HBPs, timely hitting to impressive win

(Photo: UK Athletics)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky baseball team may be bruised but it certainly wasn’t battered, using eight hit by pitch to fuel a 7-4 victory over Michigan in the final non-conference home game of the season at Kentucky Proud Park on Tuesday night.

With the win over the Big Ten’s first-place club – and second over a likely NCAA Tournament team from that conference in as many weeks - the Wildcats finished non-conference play with a 19-6 record, including 14-2 at home. Five of those six defeats came against Top 10 opponents.

The Cats (26-26) jumped out to an early lead while scoring in the opening inning for the fifth straight game, manufacturing a run without registering a hit. After falling behind 3-1 on a two-run home run by Michigan star outfielder Jordan Brewer in the fifth inning, the Cats responded with four runs in its half of the frame to take the lead for good. As part of the scoring, sophomore catcher Coltyn Kessler banged a two-run double off the centerfield wall, driving in a run for the eighth time in the past nine games and ninth time in the past 11 games to continue his breakout season.

Meanwhile, the Cats kept wearing pitches from the Michigan pitching staff, which had only hit 44 batters on the season prior to the game. The eight hit by pitch tied for the second-most of any team in a game this season and were two off the school record of 10 – which also is the NCAA record – set vs. Monmouth on March 6, 2010. The Cats also drew five walks and stole four bases in the game.

The Cats now enter the final weekend of the regular season in a three-way tie for the final berth in the Southeastern Conference Tournament as No. 2 Vanderbilt comes to town. The series opens on Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. ET on the SEC Network Plus.

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