(From UK Athletics/Photo by Sarah Caputi)
Number 2,000 came with a special set of fireworks.
Jacob Plastiak crushed a pair of late-inning home runs to centerfield and Kentucky defeated No. 9 Ole Miss, 9-2, on Saturday at Kentucky Proud Park. It was UK’s fifth victory this season over a top 10 opponent and number 2,000 all-time win in program history.
Kentucky (18-10, 3-5 SEC) set up a series rubber match on Sunday with the win. It was the eighth come-from-behind win for the Wildcats this season.
“Needed those. Needed those,” Plastiak said of his home runs, his seventh and eighth of the season. His bombs tied him with Chase Estep for the team lead and broke open what had been a tight game. “It was good to see the offense break out. Hopefully we can keep that going tomorrow.”
Plastiak has been struggling since the TCU series three weeks ago but on this day, he went back to the basics.
“I was trying to hit it on the barrel,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of power, a lot of strength. If I hit it on the barrel, good things will happen.”
“I’m really happy for Jake,” said head coach Nick Mingione. “I give our guys a lot of credit. They haven’t panicked one bit. That’s what good teams do. They go out and make plays. They don’t run from them. I love their competitiveness and grit.”
Ole Miss (18-8, 3-5) took a 2-0 lead in the first but UK held the Rebels to one hit over the final eight innings and scored nine unanswered runs. One of the keys was starting pitcher Darren Williams, the transfer from EKU who went 6.1 innings, giving up just the two runs on three hits and one walk, striking out seven in his best performance as a Wildcat.
“He’s my roommate. I live with the dude,” said outfielder Hunter Jump, who had three hits and two RBIs. “He’s a dog on the mound. It’s fun to play behind him. He attacks the zone. He doesn’t care who’s at the plate. I love it.”
So does Plastiak.
“That’s our alpha dog on the pitching staff,” he said.
Williams and Jump are two of the eight transfers who joined the Wildcats via the transfer portal and now, they have a chance to win a third series against a top 10 team with a victory Sunday.
“We’ve had conf since the fall,” Plastiak said. “We saw the depth we had and knew we were gonna be good. Obviously, that TCU series (when the Cats took two of three) was a really good start.”
Plastiak turned a taut game into a laugher with a pair of majestic blasts in back-to-back innings to put the game out of reach. He finished with four RBI in the game and started. Williams earned the win. Daniel Harper picked up the save with 2.2 hitless innings of relief.
“Those who don’t believe, hop on board,” Plastiak said. “We have a really good team. We’re hoping to get a series win tomorrow.”
- Kentucky has 2,000 all-time victories.
- UK has scored in 271 of 274 games in Mingione’s tenure.
- Mingione has 161 wins, fifth on UK’s all-time list. He needs four wins to move into fourth.
- UK is 33-of-36 on stole base attempts this season.
- The UK pitchers have struck out 304 in 28 games.
- Junior INF Chase Estep has reached base safely in 27 of 28 games this season.
- Senior IF Jacob Plastiak went 2-for-5 with two runs, four RBI and two home runs.
- He has eight homers this season.
- He has 10 multi-hit and nine multi-RBI games this season.
- Senior OF Hunter Jump had three hits.
- Senior OF John Thrasher tied a career-high with three hits.
- Senior RHP Darren Williams earned the win.
- He pitched 6.1 innings, allowing three hits, two runs and striking out seven.
- He allowed only one hit after the first inning.
- Senior RHP Daniel Harper earned his first save of the season and third of his career.
First pitch Sunday is at 1 p.m. ET on SEC Plus. Dick Gabriel and Doug Flynn will have the call. The radio call will be on the UK Sports Network with Darren Headrick. Pre-game is set for 12:45 p.m.