COLUMBIA, S.C. – Zack Thompson continued his dominance on the mound and the offense kept applying pressure as Kentucky scored a 6-2 victory over South Carolina at Founders Park in Sunday’s series finale.
Thompson, a junior left-hander, moved to 6-1 on the season and notched his 16th career victory with six effective innings, handcuffing the Gamecocks for just three hits and two runs. He struck out eight batters, moving into third on the school’s single-season list with 121 and fourth on the career list with 259. It was the Selma, Indiana native’s 10th consecutive quality start, which is defined by at least six innings pitched and three or fewer earned runs allowed.
The Cats (25-26, 7-20) scored in the first inning for the fourth straight game and took the lead for good with two runs in the fourth as they took control in the middle innings. Sophomore Coltyn Kessler, who has emerged as one of the club’s best hitters in his first season as a starter, reached base four times and drove in a pair of runs, while senior Ryan Shinn hit his 30th extra-base hit of the season as part of his team-leading 17th multi-hit game this year.
Thompson turned the game over to the bullpen in the seventh and watched as sophomore right-handers Daniel Harper and Carson Coleman posted three hitless innings to close out the game. Harper did not allow a hit and struck out six in six innings of work across three games this week, including Tuesday’s win over Indiana.
UK returns home to Kentucky Proud Park to face Michigan on Tuesday night in the final non-conference game of the regular season. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.
Top 1st – Elliott Curtis doubled to LCF and scored on Coltyn Kessler’s double to CF. UK 1, South Carolina 0.
Bottom 3rd – Chris Cullen hit by pitch to open the inning, moved to second on SAC bunt and third on Nick Neville’s bunt single. T.J. Hopkins grounded out to SS, scoring Cullen. UK 1, South Carolina 1.
Top 4th – Austin Schultz walked and Dalton Reed singled to RF. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Marshall Gei grounded out to 1B, scoring Schultz. Reed advanced to third on a ground ball to 2B by Ryan Johnson and scored on Cam Hill’s squeeze bunt. UK 3, South Carolina 1.
Top 5th – Kessler walked and T.J. Collett beat out an infield hit. Ryan Shinn doubled into the LF corner, scoring Kessler and moving Collett to third. UK 4, South Carolina 1.
Top 6th – Johnson was hit by a pitch, advanced to second on Hill’s SAC bunt and third on Curtis’ infield hit. Kessler plated Johnson with an RBI groundout, Curtis to second. Collett singled inside the 1B bag, scoring Curtis. UK 6, South Carolina 1.
Bottom 6th – T.J. Hopkins singled and scored on Jacob Olson’s two-out double to LF. UK 6, South Carolina 2.
· Kentucky has scored in 115 consecutive games and 191 of the past 192 dating to the 2016 season. The lone shutout came in a seven-inning game. The current streak is the second-longest in school history.
· Junior LHP Zack Thompson pitched 6.0 innings, allowing two runs on three hits. He walked one, hit a batter and struck out eight.
o Thompson improved to 6-1 on the season and 16-5 in his career. His .762 winning percentage ranks third in UK history.
o The eight strikeouts give him 259 for his career, moving him into a tie for fourth on UK’s career list. He is tied with former National League Cy Young winner Brandon Webb (1998-2000).
o He now has 121 strikeouts on the season, moving him into a tie with Rod Bolton (1990) for third on the single-season list.
o He now owns the record for most strikeouts by a left-hander in a season, surpassing James Paxton’s 2009 total of 115.
o This was Thompson’s 10th consecutive quality start (6.0 IP, three or fewer earned runs allowed).
· Freshman INF Austin Schultz has reached base safely in 39 of the past 41 games and in 12 straight.
· Sophomore C/INF Coltyn Kessler finished 2-for-3 with a run, a double, two RBI and two walks.
o It was Kessler’s 11th multi-hit game and fifth multi-RBI game of the season.
· Senior OF Ryan Shinn recorded his team-leading 17th multi-hit game of the season.
o Shinn hit his 17th double of the season and 30th extra-base hit.
Kentucky returns home for the final non-conference game of the season, hosting Michigan on Tuesday night at Kentucky Proud Park. First pitch is at 7 p.m. ET on the SEC Network. Darren Headrick will have the radio call on the UK Sports Network.