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Kentucky Puts Their Best Foot Forward On Opening Day

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Nick Mingione wants to do things at Kentucky that have never been done before. The second-year coach did just that on Friday when he led his team to their first season-opening win under his leadership with a 6-1 win over Wofford. Luke Heyer, Kole Cottam, and Tristan Pompey all hit home runs as the Cats won their first opening game since 2015.

The SEC’s leader in hitting last season, UK wasted no time putting up a crooked number against starting pitcher Adam Scott. After Kole Cottam and Troy Squires reached base in the second, senior Luke Heyer launched a three-run home run to give UK their first runs of 2018.

While the UK offense was rolling, junior pitcher Sean Hjelle was settling in on the mound. The reigning SEC Pitcher of the Year retired the first nine batters of the game. Hjelle showed mastery of his three pitches early. Wofford did not manage a base hit until the fourth inning against Hjelle.

The BatCats kept their foot on the gas early. Tristan Pompey and Cottam launched home runs in the third and fourth innings respectively Scott had issues keeping the ball in the park. Ben Aklinski added an RBI single in the sixth as UK scored in four straight innings to build a 6-0 lead over Wofford.


Wofford could never find consistent success on offense against UK’s staff. Mack Nathanson delivered both of the Terriers’ base hits on Friday, including a double to score their only run of the game in the sixth inning.

Opening Day is all about putting your best foot forward. UK’s pitching staff did just that. Hjelle cruised thru six innings of one-run ball to pick up his first win of the season. The junior pitcher allowed one run on two hits while striking out three on 83 pitches. With this being the first start of 2018, Mingione pulled Hjelle after the sixth inning to preserve his arm early this season.

After Hjelle’s solid start, the UK bullpen finished the job with three dominant innings. Redshirt freshman Carson Coleman struck out five in two innings of work in his collegiate debut before senior Alec Maley struck out the side in the ninth to finish off a 6-1 win over Wofford.

An Opening Day win is not a definite marker for a successful season. But it can be used to set the tone early in a season. We will see if the momentum carries over when Kentucky returns to action tomorrow in a doubleheader against USC Upstate. The first game will be at 1 ET with game two following at 5. Both games will be broadcast on the USC Upstate Facebook Live.


Article written by Trey Huntsman

The KSR Baseball guy. Follow me on Twitter @TreyHuntsmanSEC.

11 Comments for Kentucky Puts Their Best Foot Forward On Opening Day

  1. Optional Facts
    9:20 pm February 16, 2018 Permalink

    There is not much better than sitting down and watching a game with a score book.

  2. Uk8rings
    9:26 pm February 16, 2018 Permalink

    So fortunate to have coach mingione here…..Good start guys

  3. Eazy
    11:22 pm February 16, 2018 Permalink

    Just the most recent example of the incredible job Barnhart has done turning UK into a top 10 overall athletic department. Louisville never got close to that number even with all their cheating. Just wait till the new park opens. We won’t be going to Omaha to get swept like UL has…we will win it all at least once in the next 5 years. Mingione is killing McDonnell on the recruiting trail already. Time is up for the one trick pony Cardinals. They will have nothing left now that we are surpassing them in their premier sport.

    • BBNstrive49
      4:32 am February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Louisville has been to ohmaha multiple times in the last 8 years. I wanna say three but I’m not sure. They’ve been to a super regional 7-8 straight years. We’re nothing compared to them as a complete athletic department goes. We have basketball that’s it. You sound like a idiot.

    • BBNstrive49
      4:33 am February 17, 2018 Permalink

      And if I remember right our football team sucks too. We’re the one trick pony.

    • runningunnin.454
      8:39 am February 17, 2018 Permalink

      And, strive49 is the south end of that north bound pony.

    • BBNstrive49
      9:56 am February 17, 2018 Permalink

      runnin get off my sack

    • Bull Filmer
      10:51 am February 17, 2018 Permalink

      The uavel tribe is out again today – in full ‘farce’ .

      What a joke.

      Just like their juco commuter college.

      Literally, no foundation.

      Little brother had to hire another KENTUCKY graduate to rebuild.

      uavel = cheaters.

      It’s funny that Puhtreno is patriarch what with Tommy Turtleneck and Puhteeno ‘farrd’ already.

      To post on KENTUCKY’s premier sports site means one is a fan – or a sorry-ass, pathetic, LOSER.

      uavel fans are the latter.

      Mad respect for their basketball team this year; “IF” Pitino were still HC, there may have been another ‘ship this year.

      Looking forward to the revocation of the one they cheated to get.

    • runningunnin.454
      11:27 am February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Strive, stupid and vulgar is a great combination.

    • KayutsBy90
      11:43 am February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Louisville was actually a top athletics department while Jurich was there. Not just performance wise but he pushed the university to update facilities for most of the non revenue sports. Not sure about other sports but all of their home baseball games are free to attend besides the UK game. What he did for their athletics was actually really impressive and it took us until now to catch up. But all that said, he’s a cheating scumbag that got what he had coming.

  4. KayutsBy90
    11:45 am February 17, 2018 Permalink

    Also, UofL swept us in a super last year to go to Omaha and knocked us out of a regional in 2014. I’m glad we are doing much better but you gotta give them some credit