Kentucky Bullpen Shines to Extend Impressive Start to Season
The Kentucky baseball team remained perfect on the season with a 6-3 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday at Kentucky Proud Park, giving the program its best start since the 2012 campaign.
The top of the Wildcats’ batting order delivered throughout, including sophomore outfielder John Rhodes’ two-run, go-ahead home run in the fifth inning, as the Cats’ moved to 5-0 on the season. Rhodes and senior first baseman T.J. Collett each drove in a pair of runs, while junior utilityman Austin Schultz reached base three times, twice igniting scoring rallies.
The Cats got on the board early for the fifth straight game when Schultz tripled and scored on Collett’s single. Freshman infielder Reuben Church then slammed the second triple of the inning – and his sixth extra-base hit of the season – to drive in another run and make it 2-0 after an inning.
Freshman pitcher Ryan Hagenow worked his way through four innings, allowing just one run on five hits, before EKU touched up the bullpen for a pair of runs in the fifth to tie the game. UK responded quickly when Schultz led off the home half of the inning with a hit by pitch and then Rhodes blasted his second home run of the season, this one into the right-field bullpen.
From there, left-hander Cole Daniels and right-hander Sean Harney slammed the door on the Colonels. Daniels turned in three perfect innings, striking out seven, including six straight. Harney earned his second save in as many games by striking out the side in the ninth, as the Cats punched out 11 of the final 13 EKU batters to come to the plate.
Bottom 1st – Austin Schultz tripled to RCF and scored on T.J. Collett’s single. Reuben Church tripled to RCF, scoring Collett. UK 2, EKU 0.
Bottom 3rd – John Rhodes walked and scored on Oraj Anu’s double into the LF corner. UK 3, EKU 0.
Top 4th – Lovell singled to RF and advanced to third on Ludwick’s single to RF. Lovell scored on Bodine’s single to RF. UK 3, EKU 1.
Top 5th – Thomason doubled to LF and Harris IV walked. Both runners advanced on a passed ball. Thomason scored on a wild pitch, Harris to third. Harris scored on Lovell SAC fly. UK 3, EKU 3.
Bottom 5th – Schultz was hit by a pitch and scored on Rhodes’ home run to RF. UK 5, EKU 3.
Bottom 6th – Zeke Lewis, Schultz and Rhodes walked to load the bases. Lewis scored on a SAC fly to CF by Collett. UK 6, EKU 3.
- The 5-0 start is UK’s best since the 2012 team opened the season with 22 consecutive wins.
- UK is 79-26 vs. non-conference opponents under head coach Nick Mingione.
- The Cats are 68-8 vs. non-Power Five conference opponents.
- UK currently has a 11-game winning streak dating to the 2020 season.
- The UK pitching staff has 19 consecutive games with seven or more strikeouts, including 16 with 10 or more.
- Of the last 13 outs UK pitchers recorded, 11 came via strikeout.
Sophomore OF John Rhodes went 1-for-3 with two runs, two RBI, two walks and a home run.
- Rhodes now has five extra-base hits in five games (3 doubles, 3 home runs)
- He hit the go-ahead two-run home run in the 5th inning.
Junior IF/OF Austin Schultz went 1-for-3 with two runs, a triple, a walk and a hit by pitch.
- Schultz ignited two scoring rallies by getting on base to lead off innings.
- Schultz has reached base safely in 60 of his 65 career games.
Junior LHP Cole Daniels pitched 3.0 perfect innings of relief.
- Daniels struck out seven of the nine hitters he faced, including six straight.
- He logged career-highs in strikeouts (previous best was three) and pitches (42).
Senior RHP Sean Harney pitched a perfect ninth to earn his second save of the season.
- Harney struck out the side and now has struck out eight in 3.0 innings of work.
The Cats return to Kentucky Proud Park on Wednesday afternoon vs. Evansville. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. ET. The game will be aired on SECN+. The radio call will be on the UK Sports Network.