Batcats match best start in school history

The UK baseball team matched a school record by beating Tennessee-Martin Saturday. And they did so in - well - record fashion.

The UK baseball team matched a school record by beating Tennessee-Martin Saturday. And they did so in - well - record fashion.

The Cats batted around in three different innings, pounded out 22 hits and scored 27 runs while holding the Skyhawks scoreless. The 27-0 thrashing was the worst a UK team has ever beaten an opponent.

But even more impressive, with the win over Tennessee-Martin, UK now stands 15-0 on the season, which ties for the greatest start in the program's 103-year history. The Cats will be looking to not only to sweep the weekend series against Tennessee-Martin Sunday, but to set themselves apart from every team in the history of the program by starting the season 16-0.

"It means a lot," Cohen said. "I know that early in the year if you lose games you can use that to help your program and help your kids learn from those kinds of experiences. But at the same time there have been times when we have been behind and have just kept battling."

UK's win streak has been in jeopardy on more than a few occasions this season. The Cats have had to come from behind for nine of their 15 wins this season.

"We've had some good fortune," Cohen said. "But again, I think our kids have just wanted to compete at a high level this year, and again, anything can happen with injuries and the whole deal. But right now I feel like we have a nice mixture of effort, passion and production on the field."

That effort and passion led to a ton of production on Saturday. UK batted around in the second inning had already built a 9-0 lead heading to the bottom of the fourth inning. The Cats sent 15 batters to the plate in the frame and scored 10 runs on six hits and five walks.

UK batted around again in the fifth inning, adding six more runs to the board to extend their lead to 25-0.

A run in the seventh and an eighth inning home run from Brock Wright, the only home run of the game, pushed the Cats' total to 27 runs on the game, threatening to break the school record for runs in a game which stands at 30.

Cohen said Friday's 6-4 win was "as poorly as we've played all season." He said he was proud of the way his team maintained its focus even as the score continued to balloon in UK's favor.

"It was just a different day," Cohen said. "I'm really proud of the way our kids came back and competed no matter what the score was. You have to like that as a coach."

Not to be outdone, the UK pitching staff also threatened to break into the record books.

Starter Duran Ferguson and reliever Clint Tilford, both freshmen, held Tennessee-Martin hitless through the first eight innings of the game. Pinch hitter Zach Parham recorded the Skyhawks' first and only base hit off of Tilford with one out in the ninth inning. Had the Cats kept their combined no-hitter alive, it would have been just the fourth such accomplishment in school history.

Freshman Duran Ferguson has emerged as on of UK's most effective arms. Entering Saturday's game, Ferguson had appeared in four games and in eleven innings of work leads the team with 18 strikeouts and while maintaining an ERA of just 0.82. Ferguson made the third start of his career and pitched six innings of hitless baseball, giving up just four walks.

"His stuff is real big SEC type stuff," Cohen said of Ferguson. "The question is whether or not he can throw strikes for us. I think when he is good, he can definitely get that done."

Tilford threw the final three innings with one walk and the lone hit in the ninth as his the only blemish in his outing.

"Clint Tilford is someone who we definitely think is going to be a star eventually," Cohen said. "We just have to figure some things in his delivery and get some more consistency. His slider and his fastball are as good as anybody's we have in our program."

"Those are two guys who are freshman, and that really says a lot about our future here."

Antone DeJesus, who has been moved around the lineup from his usual leadoff spot, was 2-for-3 Saturday, scored four runs and drove in four more. He said that the coaching staff has not mentioned the team's current chase for history, but that the players are aware of it.

"That's something that, as it gets closer, the guys are kind of talking about it," DeJesus said. "They are talking about how we may have a little piece of history here. It's a good thing. Our team is really playing well and we are really taking this history as a compliment I guess."

Sawyer Carroll pitched in with four RBIs of his own on a 3-for-3 day at the plate which included a pair of doubles. Carroll now leads the SEC with 11 doubles on the season. He too was excited about being perfect 15 games into the season.

"It shows how good this team really is and how we are coming together," Carroll said. "15-0, I don't care who your playing, whether you are playing high school or junior high, it's hard to win that many games in a row. But I'm hoping we can come out and do it again tomorrow."

Cohen said that the 15-0 start shows a lot about the 2007 team's character.

"I think it says that we have some experienced guys who were around last year and understand what we are trying to get done on a daily basis," Cohen said. "We have tremendous leadership."

But Cohen knows a day will come when the Cats are on the losing end of the scoreboard.

"But again, there are teams that have went he college world series that lost five in a row at one point," Cohen said. "Last year, Florida in basketball was just reeling at the end of the regular season, but just went out and performed in the tournament. It's a streaky thing, and right now we are on a little bit of streak. But when it doesn't go our way, we are going to have to go out and handle it the right way."

Let's just hope that day isn't Sunday.

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