Just two games in at Kentucky Proud Park and we already have a classic. Dalton Reed hit a walk-off single in the bottom of ninth to cap off a four-run ninth inning and send the BBN home happy with a 5-4 victory over Northern Kentucky. It was Kentucky’s first walk-off hit since 2016.
Kentucky went into the bottom of ninth down by three runs with the bottom of the order due up. The bottom of the order, who has generally produced, did their job and got the line up to roll over with one out and runners on the corners. Breydon Daniel did his part in batting in Elliott Curtis to draw the Cats within two.
Needing to rally late, down by two with one out and bases full of Cats, TJ Collett stepped to the plate trying to end it with one swing of the bat. He was able to knock in two runs to tie the game at two on an RBI single, which set things up for Dalton Reed after the intentional walk of Jaren Shelby. With the bases loaded, Dalton Reed hit a shot up the middle to send Kentucky home with a win.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) February 28, 2019
“Baseball is a game that’s supposed to be fun,” Reed said. “So, things like that make everything even more special than it already is.” Reed also got a nice bath after the clutch hit.
The hero in this one, Dalton Reed gets his proper bath after walking things off for the Bat Cats. pic.twitter.com/nN7wIqom9v
— Brent Wainscott (@BrentW_KSR) February 28, 2019
After the game, Coach Mingione said his team’s competitiveness fueled them to rally late.
“Our team’s desire to win late in that game, in that ninth inning,” Mingione said. “It’s hard to compete that hard and that intense and to do all that, but for us to be great that’s what has to happen. Tonight, we had a desire to win and dominate late in that game.”
Mason Hazelwood was stellar on the mound today. In fact, he was nearly perfect. Hazelwood retired the first 16 batters he faced in this one, carrying a perfect game into the 6th inning. His streak was eventually ended on a double by NKU’s Billy Marion. Hazelwood also had the strikeout pitch working as he finished the day with a career-high 11 strikeouts in just six innings of work. Facing one-hitter over the minimum through six innings of work in your first career start isn’t too shabby.
“Mason Hazlewood, was he not fantastic?” Mingione said. “His efficiency of his pitches, we challenged him with his tempo. Man, he was in attack mode.”
After Hazelwood left the game, things broke down for Kentucky in the seventh inning. After Mason Hazelwood only allowed one baserunner through six innings, Coach Mingione turned Tyler Burchett out of the bullpen. Burchett doubled the only batter he faced, then allowed him to advance to third on a wild pitch. Not being able to finish facing two batters, Cole Ayers came in for relief.
After finishing Burchett’s batter with a strikeout, Ayers walked the next man and gave up an RBI single to tie the game at one. With two outs and bases loaded, NKU would capitalize on a double and an error by Cam Hill, who couldn’t field it cleanly that allowed three runs to score for the Norse.
It was a full team effort to bring the Cats back, and Kentucky sent four different freshmen to the mound after Sophomore Mason Hazelwood left the game. After giving up four runs in that dreaded 7th inning, the young bullpen kept things at bay to set up the ninth-inning comeback. Alex Degen and Cole Daniels only allowed one base runner after NKU’s four-run burst.
Some other notes in this one, Ryan Shinn extended his on-base streak to seven games and Marshall Gei had a career-high three hits in this game.
Here are the highlights, courtesy of KY Wildcats TV:
Kentucky will be back in action for a weekend series against Canisius. The first pitch will be Friday at 4 pm at Kentucky Proud Park. You can see the Bat Cats on SEC Network+ or 98.5 FM Lexington on the UK Sports Network.
What a great win tonight as the Cats improve to 5-3. Go Cats.