The University of Kentucky baseball team is now a perfect 1-0 on the 2021 season after defeating Miami University (OH) 5-1 on a sunny afternoon at Kentucky Proud Park.
The Wildcats made sure to pay tribute to their fallen teammate Ben Jordan in the opener, with his name sprayed on the field and his jersey hanging in the dugout. The ‘Cats struck three batters out and hit three home runs in the first inning as well. Jordan wore the number three in his time as a Wildcat.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) February 23, 2021
The biggest question coming into the season for the Wildcats was defense, where the team has struggled in the past few years. Head coach Nick Mingione has several times emphasized the team’s offseason defensive focus, both in practice and in players they have recruited.
Shortstop Ryan Ritter, for example, was one of the top Junior College transfers available in the nation. Ritter had an impressive first showing in blue and white, ending with zero errors and an impressive double-play.
Things looked promising on the mound for Kentucky. In his college debut, freshman Ryan Hagenow went four scoreless innings, allowing only one hit and striking out six batters. Senior Mason Hazelwood came in to close, ending with three strikeouts.
Offensively, the ‘Cats started hot. Graduate student TJ Collett crushed a bomb to center field in his first at-bat of the season, the 27th of his career. Only three home runs have been hit to center field at Kentucky Proud Park – Collett has two of them.
Thank goodness for that extra COVID year, right?
You can watch the full highlights here:
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) February 24, 2021
Today’s match was the first of an 18-game home game streak in Lexington. The ‘Cats will be back in action this Friday for a weekend series against the Milwaukee Panthers. The game will be live on SEC Network.