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By Brent Wainscott on ©March 20th, 2019 @ 8:30am
Last season when Kentucky took on Xavier, it was the first game in the final season of The Cliff. With a packed house on an unusually warm February night, Xavier beat Kentucky 3-2 in extra innings to deflate the send-off of Cliff Hagan Stadium. This season, Kentucky got back at the Musketeers by welcoming Xavier to Kentucky Proud Park with a huge 16-3 victory.
As evident by the final score, hitting was contagious in what was Kentucky’s best offensive performance this season. This performance was lifted by four big blue bombs and eight of Kentucky’s starters getting a hit. The four home runs matched Kentucky’s high against Austin Peay in the season opener.
The most significant bomb came from the senior infielder Alex Rodriguez. It was the first home run of his career in the blue and white.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 20, 2019
A-Rod would also record a career-high four RBIs.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Kentucky home run derby without T.J. Collett, who blasted a three-run shot for his seventh home run of the season in the bottom of the fifth to make it a 10-run lead for the Cats. Directly after Collett was Jaren Shelby, who decided to get in on the fun as well to make it a 14-3 lead for the Cats.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 20, 2019
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 20, 2019
Breyon Daniel would cap off the home run party with a solo shot in the seventh to give Kentucky a 15-3 lead. The Cats would tack on one more on a bases-loaded walk in the eighth.
The big lead meant that Kentucky got to utilize their bullpen a lot last night, as Mingione sent nine Cats to the mound. Alex Degen got the start, going only 2.2 innings, but it was sophomore right-hander Trip Lockhart who was credited with the win. When Lockhart entered the game in the third, the Musketeers were threatening with the bases loaded, but Lockhart was able to catch the batter looking to get the Cats out of a jam. Lockhart went 1.1 innings.
The Johnny All-Staff performance for Kentucky only gave up three runs on four hits. Despite walking seven batters, the Cats were able to strike out 14.
Kentucky will be back in action for game one of a weekend series against No. 13 Texas A&M at Kentucky Proud Park. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on SEC Network+ or streaming on UKathletics.com on the UK Sports Network.
By Maggie Davis on ©March 18th, 2019 @ 9:30pm
The Kentucky women’s basketball team now knows where they’re going this weekend, who they’ll play and what time they’ll tip off (you can get all of that info HERE). Although they didn’t get the “normal” Selection Show experience, the team still got together for a Selection Monday feast. I didn’t score any food, but they did let the media speak with Coach Matthew Mitchell as well as seniors Maci Morris and Taylor Murray. Here are the day’s biggest takeaways:
On the bracket leak…
Overall, they didn’t seem too upset. The team must have been practicing when the news broke on Twitter, because Murray said their coach told his players he had a “surprise” for them. Of course, this surprise was an early peak at their bracket. For Morris, it was a relief.
“I’ve been anxious to find out who we play and where we’re going, so finding out a little sooner wasn’t too bad,” the guard laughed.
This year, the team wasn’t necessarily worried about whether or not they’d make the tournament – Coach Mitchell said they felt pretty confident they’d qualify after earning their eighth conference win back in mid-February. Instead, they were really just interested in their opponent and their location. And besides, mistakes happen.
“You have to take life the way things come at you… Things happen. We’ve all made a lot of mistakes and whoever did that, just made a mistake,” Mitchell said of the graphic flub. “We’ll extend them some grace and move on – we’re just happy to be playing.”
On comparing this year to last…
A year can make a huge difference. Last year on Selection Monday, the Kentucky Wildcats did not hear their name called – plus, there was no bracket leak to soften the blow. Mitchell recalled the “crushing” experience.
“You think back to a year ago today when your name’s not called, and it was an incredible disappointment for the first time in eight years,” the head coach said. “The players felt that; they knew what that meant. It was incredibly crushing, incredibly disappointing.”
Fast forward to a year later, and the Cats have earned a No. 6 seed in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. The results of last year’s hard work didn’t culminate in a 2018 Tournament bid, but it did carry over throughout the off-season and into this year. Two years of hard work made today even sweeter, according to the Wildcats’ coach.
“This is a team that was able to make the sum be greater than the parts,” he said. “That is a true team and a true testament to these players. I’m particularly proud of this particular bid to the tournament.”
Last year, the team felt what it feels like to experience a season cut short. It stung at the time, sure, but it made the returning players all the more hungry for this season. Morris said the experience taught her about “definitely not taking [the Tournament] for granted.”
This year, there are only a few competing players on the roster who have even experienced post-season play. What do these two particular veterans tell their younger teammates?
“It’s the most fun time of the year,” Murray said. “This is what we’ve worked all season for – to try and make a run in the NCAA Tournament and again, to try and make it to the Final Four. We just have to take it one game at a time and enjoy the moment.”
On how ready they are to get back on the court…
Very. Kentucky hasn’t played in a game since March 8, when Missouri beat them 70-68 in overtime to advance in the SEC Tournament. While ten days may not seem like a long time away from the game, it’s a lifetime compared to the rigor of conference play. Mitchell said he gave his team three whole days off to rest and recover after the loss, then it was back to business. But those few days off were a huge help, according to Mitchell and his players.
“For this particular team and this particular year, it was really good for us,” Coach said. “Coming down the stretch, we were playing tough, tough games… Our last five games were a real grind and, I thought, had just depleted us from an emotional standpoint and from an energy standpoint.”
He went on to discuss the team’s effort after their short break, saying they were more energetic, more enthusiastic and just had more of a “pop.” During this time of the season, where there’s the possibility of playing multiple games in a very short period of time, that’s more important than ever.
The time off also helped Morris get back into the swing of things, after a minor leg injury affected her performances during the back-half of the season. As the team heads into the Tournament, Mitchell is confident she’ll be back to 100 percent.
“She’s one of the most incredible competitors I’ve ever been around, and I can promise you she wants to win on Saturday. She will move Heaven and Earth to get it done,” Mitchell said. “On my list of concerns, she’s way down on the list. I can tell you she’ll be ready to roll Saturday.”
As for Morris, she’s feeling pretty good about herself, too.
“Time is on your side when it comes to trying to heal yourself,” she said. “Luckily, we’ve had time for my leg to heal up, so I’m just excited to get back out there and play like I used to.”
On their opponent…
The No. 11 Princeton Tigers. Coach Mitchell says he knows their coach, Courtney Banghart, well, but he hasn’t had the chance to catch a Princeton game yet this year. Starting tonight, that’ll change.
“After this, we’ll start digging into the Princeton Tigers,” Mitchell said. “You don’t know who you’re playing, so we just work hard to become the best version of Kentucky… and I like what I’ve seen from that standpoint.”
The Cats got Saturday’s early game: they’ll face the Tigers at 11 a.m. on ESPN2.
By Maggie Davis on ©March 18th, 2019 @ 5:20pm
A mixup in ESPN’s graphic department may have ruined the surprise, but the women’s basketball Selection Monday show has now made the bracket official: the No. 6 Kentucky Wildcats will take on No. 11 Princeton Saturday. The game will be played in Raleigh, North Carolina and is set to tip off at 11 a.m. This year marks the Wildcats’ 15th NCAA Tournament appearance.
UK’s bracket also features No. 1 seed Baylor and No. 7 seed Missouri. The Cats defeated Mizzou 52-41 at home during the regular season, but the Tigers came back with a vengeance in the SEC Tournament. No. 5 Missouri narrowly defeated No. 4 Kentucky 70-68 in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament in Greenville, South Carolina.
A look at the rest of UK’s bracket in the Greensboro Regional:
What looked like a positive start for Kentucky in SEC play after game one turned sour quick. Kentucky is off to a disappointing start in conference play as they got swept this afternoon, losing to LSU 7-2.
Dillion Marsh was off to a stellar start, giving up no hits through three innings, but ran into trouble in the fourth when LSU loaded the bases on two hits and an error. Marsh would give up a run on a fielders choice then Cole Ayers came to relieve him with a one-pitch double play. Kentucky would strike back in the fifth with a perfect sac-bunt from Marshall Gei, but LSU deflated UK’s momentum in their next at-bat, scoring three runs off Hunter Rigsby and Cole Daniels in the fifth.
LSU would tack on three more in the seventh that made the deficit seem insurmountable. But, T.J. Collett wasn’t finished, hitting his sixth home run of the season in the eighth.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 17, 2019
Unfortunately, Collett’s home run was the only offense for the Cats the rest of the way, and the Cats would lose 7-2 to suffer their second sweep of the season.
There were not many bright spots this weekend for Kentucky offensively outside of Austin Schultz. The freshman racked up five hits in two games this weekend, including two this afternoon.
Kentucky will return to the diamond Tuesday night when they take on the Xavier Musketeers at Kentucky Proud Park at 6:30 p.m. in the only midweek game this week. Per usual, you will be able to catch the game on the SEC Network+, or you can listen on UKathletics.com on the UK Sports Network.
The Bat Cats are now 13-7 on the year.
After the Bat Cats nearly beat LSU in game one of yesterday’s doubleheader, losing in extra innings, they did not put up a valiant effort in game two. Kentucky lost 16-4 to the Tigers.
After a stellar defensive performance in game one, the nightcap was a COMPLETELY different story. LSU piled up nine runs in the first three innings, and only three of them were earned. Grant Macciocchi gave up eight hits and 11 runs in his short 3.1 innings of work. The bullpen didn’t fare so well, either. As a whole, Kentucky walked eight batters and struck out just five. It’s pretty hard to win baseball games when you do that.
Macciocchi was credited with his first loss of the season.
Offesnsivley, the Cats didn’t do too shabby. Kentucky strung together 11 hits and put up four runs, but holes in the lineup hindered the Cats in this one as they left 13 men on base. Ryan Shinn, who has been red hot to start the season, went 0-5 to end his on-base streak at 17 games. Jaren Shelby also went 0-5 with a hat trick on top of that.
On the bright side of things, Kentucky got great production from their young middle infielders. Elliot Curtis saw the ball really well last night going 3-3, and Austin Schultz went 3-5 with two doubles and an RBI. T.J. Collett also had a pair of doubles. Despite failing to get a hit in this one to end his career-high hitting streak, Coltyn Kessler reached base to extend his on-base streak to 14 games.
After a long day of 21 innings, and falling to 13-6 on the season, Kentucky will be back in action again this afternoon at 3:00 pm from Baton Rouge. You can catch the game on SEC Netowrk+ or listen on UKAthletics.com on the UK Sports Network.
As Kentucky and Tennesee tipped off in Nashville, the Bat Cats kicked off their first series in SEC play falling to No. 10 LSU 2-1 in Baton Rouge.
The key for Kentucky in this one was their ace Zack Thompson who completely shut down the Tiger offense. Thompson started the day on the mound with a one-run cushion after T.J. Collett got an RBI single in the first that later saw Kentucky leave the bases loaded in the opening frame.
Thompson dealt with that short cushion all day and pitched a gem, going six innings and fanning nine batters along the way. Thompson also gave up four hits and no runs. After his departure in the sixth, the young Cats bullpen held their own against the Tigers, only giving up two hits the rest of the way. However, Jimmy Ramsey couldn’t pound the zone in the eighth inning, walking three straight batters to allow the Tigers to tie it up in the eighth and the game would go into extras.
Kentucky would have their chances in extra innings, getting Elliot Curtis to third with two outs in the tenth inning, and getting Breydon Daniel to third with one out in the 12th. But, Kentucky couldn’t knock them in, and LSU would walk it off, literally, after Ryan Johnson walked Giovanni DiGiacomo to allow the Tigers to escape 2-1. Trip Lockhart was credited with the loss.
There has been a big question mark for Kentucky this season, outside of Zack Thompson and T.J. Collett. Besides Collett and Thompson, Kentucky lost their entire starting lineup, then brought in 18 newcomers. Many people suggested that the Cats may not have a stellar season due to their inexperience and the fact that the SEC is absolutely loaded this season with 11 teams in the top 25. But, despite losing to LSU in 12 innings, Kentucky put their best foot forward this afternoon to kick off SEC play.
Kentucky is getting another crack at LSU, right now. Game two is underway on the SEC Network+. The Bat Cats are in store for at least 21 innings of baseball today.
By Brent Wainscott on ©March 13th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
Kentucky finishes up their lengthy opening homestand with a 15-0 beatdown of Western Kentucky this afternoon at Kentucky Proud Park.
This game was ugly from the start, after three errors to start the first three UK batters today, TJ Collett hammered a three-run shot before the Hilltoppers could even a record an out, and that would set the tone for the rest of the game. WKU would get two more errors in the inning that allowed Dalton Reed to score, and Rook Ellington to get an RBI as well. Also in the first Coltyn Kessler extended his hit-streak to a notable 11 games.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 13, 2019
Collett wasn’t finished with his home run either. In the seventh, the Cats busted it open on a TJ Collett triple (yes, you read that right) that scored Ryan Shinn after his double, and Breydon Daniel. Then Jaren Shelby knocked in Collett with a single, followed by a Coltyn Kessler double that scored Shelby.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 13, 2019
“I think I’ve had two triples now in my entire life,” Collet joked. “The the outfielder dove and missed that one too. They were messing with me, telling me I needed some oxygen.”
Dalton Reed also had a four-RBI day at the plate, with a two-RBI single in the fourth and another one in the seventh.
Keeping with a couple of active streaks for the Bat Cats: tonight Ryan Shinn extended his on-base streak to 16 games, Coltyn Kessler extended his hitting streak to 11 games, and Jaren Shelby has reached base safely in 11 straight games.
Kentucky won today throwing six pitchers. The first seven innings were tossed by freshmen; the final two were by sophomores.
Kentucky’s pitching and defense were near immaculate this afternoon with no walks or errors. Dillon Marsh was near perfect on the mound going four innings in the start, facing the minimum and only allowing a hit. He finished with three strikeouts as well. Ben Jordan would relieve him and continue the Johnny-all staff one-hitter through five. Then Tyler Burchett would carry that through the sixth. WKU finally broke the minimum curse in the seventh inning when they got two hits off Braxton Cottongame. Those hits were WKU’s first since the second inning. Brett Marshall and Trip Lockhart would finish the Hilltoppers in the final two innings.
Not only was the pitching amazing, check out this Jeter-jump throw from Austin Schultz.
Stop it, @AustinSchultz23! Just stop it!
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 13, 2019
After having to come from behind to win most of their games to start the season, it was emphasized that the Bat Cats needed to get out to a lead early, and it all finally came together this afternoon.
“We always have confidence, we just couldn’t string stuff together early,” said Collett. “Before the game, we had a pretty honest conversation with everybody, that we needed that adjustment and when we got the chance to score early in the games. I’m proud because we delivered.”
Nick Mingione added, “Finally we challenged our team like can we put something together early? We’ve proven we can come back on some teams but can we get a lead, expand on a lead and get to our big inning? Our coaches did a good job of making that a point of emphasis to our offense today about ‘hey we got to get to our big inning, can we get it early, so we feel like we don’t have to chase our tail?’ We were able to do that.”
Not only was getting out early a good sign for the Cats before they head to Baton Rouge to face the preseason number one team in America LSU, but Kentucky got production from top to bottom in the lineup in these two-midweek games. Last night it was the bottom of the lineup that put together the comeback that enabled the Cats to win, and in this one, the first six guys in the lineup either scored or had an RBI.
On deck for the Cats, they will make the trip to Baton Rouge this weekend to begin SEC play against the No. 13 LSU Tigers. First pitch will be Friday at 8:00 p.m. You can catch the game on SEC Network+ or 98.5 FM Lexington on the UK Sports Network.
By Brent Wainscott on ©March 10th, 2019 @ 10:30pm
What a way to end a series sweep for the Bat Cats. In Game two of today’s doubleheader against Middle Tennessee State to close out the series, the Cats entered the ninth inning down by a run. Looking for their third sweep of the season, the Cats sent their nine-hole hitter Austin Schultz to the plate with the lineup set to roll over. He got on after an impressive two-strike single, then a sacrifice bunt later and Ryan Shinn looking to extend his on-base streak to 13-games…Santa Maria!
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 10, 2019
Shinn’s walk-off ended an 18-inning day of baseball, one that saw Grant Macciochi and the Cats post a shutout in the first game on Sunday. Macciochi went 6.1 perfect innings until giving up a hit in the seventh inning. He improved to 2-0 on the year. Jimmy Ramsey got the win in the second game; after entering in the sixth, Ramsey went for three scoreless innings.
Jarren Shelby had a big day Sunday as well. Over both games, Shelby had multiple hits and four RBIs – none were more significant than a three-run double in the seventh inning of the first game to bust the matchup open for the Cats. Coltyn Kessler had a hit in both games as well to extend his hitting streak to nine games.
The Cats now sit at 11-4 on the year: they won 7-0 in the first game and 5-4 in the second. They’ll be back in action Tuesday against SIU-Edwardsville. First pitch at Kentucky Proud Park will be set for 4:00 p.m.
By Brent Wainscott on ©March 09th, 2019 @ 8:00am
After a late-game debacle on Wednesday night, the Bat Cats are back in the win column with a 4-1 victory over Middle Tennesee State.
Zack Thompson was dominant yet again in this one. The lefty went a career-tying seven innings only giving up four hits, one run, and he had nine K’s. For the first time in his 24-start career, Thompson did not walk a single batter in his start. He also sat down the last nine batters he faced. Thompson is a top-20 draft prospect for a reason, and he has been dominant all year. He alone will be able to win Kentucky some games this season.
Dillion Harper would get the hold in a one-hit seventh inning, and Jimmy Ramsey got his first career save with a perfect ninth inning.
On the offensive side, It was Cam Hills two-run blast that gave Kentucky their first lead of the game in the fourth. It was Hill’s first career home run.
.@CamAHill24 for the win!
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 9, 2019
Bryedon Daniel who has been hot lately went yard as well to give Kentucky a 3-1 lead. That lead would get extended in the sixth when Zeke Lewis executed the rare suicide squeeze that scored Coltyn Kessler to put the Cats up 4-1.
Ryan Shinn also kept his on-base streak alive to make it 12-straight games, and Kessler extended his hit streak to seven games.
Kentucky will be back in action today, at Kentucky Proud Park. First pitch for game two of this series is set for 1:00 p.m. ET.
By Brent Wainscott on ©March 07th, 2019 @ 8:00am
After Kentucky went on a five-game win streak to open up their new home, the Bat Cats looked like they had game six in the bag, but they blow the late lead and lose to Boston College 12-2.
Kentucky had a 2-1 lead with two outs in the eighth inning, but Boston College was threatening with bases loaded when Jimmy Ramsey gave up an infield single, that allowed two runs to score to give Boston College a one-run lead late. The Cats would end the top of the eighth down by three with two innings to make a comeback, but unfortunately, the Eagles hung a seven-spot in the top of the ninth to essentially end the hopes of late-game heroics.
Before the late-game debacle, Kentucky looked pretty solid with a Johnny All-staffer, only giving up one run until the eighth.
TJ Collett kept proving he has one of the best bats in the SEC with yet another home run this afternoon. He now has seven extra-base hits along with 16 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .596. What a monster.
Ryan Shinn’s on-base streak got in jeopardy in this one, but he was able to come through with a double in the eighth to extend his on-base streak to 11 games.
Coltyn Kessler has put together a nice little hit streak as well; he is now sitting at a career-high six games.
Kentucky will return to the diamond on Friday at 4 p.m. ET when they host Middle Tennessee in the opener of a three-game weekend series. Saturday and Sunday’s games are set for 1 p.m. first pitches. All three games will be aired on SEC Network+ or you can listen on UKathletics.com.
By Maggie Davis on ©March 03rd, 2019 @ 7:15pm
The SEC Tournament bracket has officially been set. Kentucky’s fourth-quarter rally over Georgia secured a No. 4 seed for the Wildcats, meaning they won’t hit the court in Greenville, South Carolina until the quarterfinals on Friday afternoon. Here’s a look at the complete bracket:
Kentucky will face the winner of Missouri vs. Ole Miss/Florida. Here’s how the Cats have stacked up against those teams so far this season
Ole Miss: Loss on Jan. 13, 55-49
Missouri: Win on. Jan. 24, 52-41
Florida: Win on Feb. 3, 62-51
If the Cats advance to the semifinals, they’ll likely face No. 1 Mississippi State. The Cats have only seen the Bulldogs once this season: Kentucky lost on Jan. 6 by a final score of 71-86.
On the season, Kentucky is 24-6, including an 11-5 SEC record. Excluding the Ole Miss loss, UK’s other four “L’s” this season have come at the hands of the top-rated teams in the league – twice at Texas A&M, at Mississippi State and at home against South Carolina.
Playing to the tune of a No. 4 seed.
It’s a good song. pic.twitter.com/eGRIvjxK1p
— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) March 4, 2019
The Cats’ game is scheduled to start 25 minutes after the conclusion of Friday’s noon game, so get ready to flip to the SEC Network by 2:30 to cheer on the Wildcats.
By Maggie Davis on ©March 03rd, 2019 @ 4:30pm
It was an odd afternoon for Kentucky’s women’s basketball team, but it all worked out in the end: the No. 11 Cats defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 56-51 in Athens. The win finished out UK’s regular-season schedule, giving them a final record of 11-5 in the SEC and a No. 4 finish in conference standings. Their fourth-place seed will also give the Wildcats a double-bye week for the SEC tournament.
The Cats found themselves with little output from the season’s three highest scorers: Rhyne Howard, Maci Morris and Taylor Murray finished with a combined 16 points. Howard had seven points, Morris had six and Murray had three. Without strong contributions from Kentucky’s typical offensive leaders, other Wildcats had to step up, starting with Tatyana Wyatt. The sophomore forward finished with a season-high 17 points. Amanda Paschal and Jaida Roper finished with eight points apiece, while Blair Green added five of her own.
On the game, Kentucky shot 37.5 percent from the field (21-56) and 46.2 percent (6-13) from deep. The Bulldogs had the advantage at the end of every quarter, excluding, of course, the final one. UK’s offense found its groove early in the fourth period, and a 9-0 run cut a five-point deficit into a four-point lead for the Wildcats.
But the Bulldogs didn’t go down without a fight – Georgia answered with a short 6-2 run and a three-pointer. But Kentucky’s Roper drained a three-pointer of her own to give the Cats a 55-51 lead with under a minute remaining. And even though she struggled offensively, Maci Morris once again showcased why she’s so special to this team: she’s absolutely clutch. She nailed her final two free throws, as did Wyatt, to give the Cats a ‘W’ in their final game of the regular season. In the fourth quarter, the Cats went 8-16 from the floor to outscore Georgia 23-14.
With the loss, Georgia falls to 18-11 on the season and 9-7 in the SEC. The Bulldogs were led by Gabby Connally, who finished just ahead of Wyatt for a game-high 18 points.
Here are the highlights:
Kentucky returns to action Friday for the SEC Tournament. Their opponent hasn’t been decided at this time, but tipoff is set for around 2:30 p.m. The matchup will take place in Greenville, South Carolina, and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.
Some good news on the baseball diamond on a day Cats fans need it, Kentucky sweeps Canisius to open up Kentucky Proud Park with five-straight wins and to get back on track.
In game one, Kentucky’s ace Zack Thompson was once again dominant. After striking out five batters in the first two innings, Thompson was well on his way to a career-high 11 strikeouts in six innings of work. He also only gave up two runs and six hits. Three of those hits came via infield singles.
Despite being down two runs early, Kentucky had their fourth comeback win of the season. Heading into the seventh, Kentucky was down 2-1 after a TJ Collett scored Zeke Lewis on a rare infield single from the powerful Collett, but that changed quickly when the Cats hung five runs on the board.
The Seventh began unconventionally with pitcher Grant Maccochi being brought on to pinch hit, where he drew a walk. He would reach third on a single from Breydon Daniel then Jaren Shelby knocked him in to tie the game. Collett gave Kentucky their first lead of the game on an RBI single, but the big blow in the inning came on a Coltyn Kessler two-RBI single to give the Cats a four-run lead.
Kentucky would tack on four more in the eighth, also helped by Kessler. He finished with a career-high three RBIs and tied his career-best with two hits, including a double.
Kentucky would go onto win 10-2, and Zack Thompson improved to 2-1 on the year.
In game two of this series, despite the cold weather, the Kentucky bats were hot with 12 runs. As I’ve mentioned quite frequently early this season, Kentucky has gotten a lot of production from the bottom of their lineup, and game two was no exception as Zeke Lewis had four RBIs out of the nine spot in the order. Not known for his power, Lewis had to get his runs with the help of small ball, and the same applied to the rest of the Cats today as well.
Kentucky got most of their runs via sacrifice outs, but they burnt up the bases as well with six stolen bases, three of them coming from Breydon Daniel. One great example of small ball Kentucky used was a trick play that allowed Breydon Daniel to take home. In the 4th inning, Ryan Shinn baited the Canisius catcher by falling down at second. Naturally, the catcher threw the ball down to 2nd base, trying to catch Shinn slipping(literally), but once the ball went to 2nd, that allowed Daniel to swipe home. Brilliant play.
Even though the use of small ball was prevalent, The Cats still made sure to get their power in with two big blue bombs. The first one came off the bat of Ryan Shinn in the 3rd inning with a 375 ft. opposite field shot to extend his on-base streak to nine games and the Kentucky lead to three.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 2, 2019
The reigning two-time JUCO home-run king, Dalton Reed, has been a great addition to this brand new Kentucky roster. His bat has been hot to start the 2019 campaign, and he continued his tear with a two-run shot in the bottom of the sixth.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 2, 2019
Dillion Marsh was terrific on the mound this afternoon as he picked up his first win on the year. Marsh started the game by facing the minimum and holding a no-hitter through Four and a thirds innings. After going five strong innings, he was pulled in the sixth. He ended his day with three hits, two walks, and two runs on three base hits. He had six strikeouts as well.
In his absence, the collective effort from Degen, Daniels, Johnson, and Cottongame was near perfect as Alex Degen was the only pitcher to allow a hit and a run out of relief.
Dylan Marsh is 1-1 on the year as the Cats took this one 12-3.
In game three, the Bat Cats once again had a comeback victory. This time, being down 3-2 going into the bottom of the fifth Jaren Shelby was the hero with a two-RBI single that was set up by a TJ Collett.
The Cats would hold that lead due to three perfect innings by Cole Daniels and Hunter Rigsby in relief. While Daniels was credited with the win, it was a solid effort by both of them regarding high-praise.
While the least amount of runs Kentucky scored in this series came in this game, there were a few offensive bright spots. For starters, Ryan Shinn’s on-base streak has reached ten games now. Shinn has been red hot to start to the season and hopefully, he won’t cool off anytime soon.
Another bright spot was this two-run big blue bomb that Breydon Daniel obliterated back in the third inning to put Kentucky on the board.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 2, 2019
Kentucky would win this one 4-3 to sweep Canisius.
After a horrible weekend in Lubbock, Texas the Cats had their groove this weekend in what was a special week. This week saw the grand-opening of Kentucky Proud Park, and Kentucky went 5-0 this week to improve their record to 8-3.
Kentucky will look to extend on their five-game win streak and stay undefeated at KPP when they take on Wright State in Lexington, Tuesday at 4:00 pm ET. As always, you can catch the game on 98.5 FM Lexington on the UK Sports Network or SEC Network+.
By Brent Wainscott on ©February 27th, 2019 @ 8:30pm
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.