Emotional first inning fuels Kentucky to season opening win
The Wildcats honor Ben Jordan, deliver impressive season-opening win
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The undeniable power of “3” made its presence felt in Kentucky baseball’s first game since the death of Ben Jordan, the affable pitcher who wore the number throughout his career.
The Wildcats honored their fallen teammate in a pregame moment of silence then watched as freshman pitcher Ryan Hagenow struck out all three batters he faced in his first collegiate inning. Moments later, the Cats clobbered three home runs in their first trip to the plate, fueling a 5-1 season-opening victory over Miami (Ohio) at Kentucky Proud Park on Tuesday.
“You can’t draw up a better first (inning),” UK coach Nick Mingione said.
Hagenow, the second-highest rated recruit ever to arrive at UK, delivered a memorable debut. He struck out the first four batters he faced and allowed just one hit with no walks in four scoreless innings, earning his first collegiate victory.
On the flip side, the Cats’ veteran offense wasted no time flexing its muscle. Junior preseason All-American Austin Schultz led off with a clean single and scored two batters later when senior first baseman T.J. Collett smacked a home run to straightaway centerfield, the 27th of his career. Senior outfielder Oraj Anu followed with a blast before junior outfielder Cam Hill capped the outburst with a solo shot to make it 4-0 before the crowd settled into its seat.
The win was UK’s seventh consecutive dating back to last season, which was canceled on Mar. 13, 2020 after just 17 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bottom 1st – Austin Schultz singled up the middle and scored on T.J. Collett’s home run to CF. Oraj Anu homered to RCF. Cam Hill homered to LCF. UK 4, Miami 0.
Bottom 3rd – Alonzo Rubalcaba doubled to LCF and scored on Hill’s double to LCF. UK 5, Miami 0.
Top 5th – Wardwell doubled to LF and Massman walked. Tejada reached on an error, loading the bases. Zapp singled through the infield, scoring Wardwell. UK 5, Miami 1.
- Kentucky opened its season at home for the first time since 1983, a doubleheader sweep of St. Xavier.
- UK is 3-2 in season openers under head coach Nick Mingione.
- UK currently has a seven-game winning streak dating to the 2020 season.
- The UK pitching staff has 15 consecutive games with eight or more strikeouts, including 13 with 10 or more.
- Six players made their Kentucky debut: RHP Ryan Hagenow, RHP Wyatt Hudepohl, RHP Holt Jones, IF Jake Plastiak, IF Ryan Ritter and C Alonzo Rubalcaba.
- Freshman RHP Ryan Hagenow earned his first collegiate win in his debut, tossing 4.0 innings of one-hit, scoreless baseball.
- Hagenow struck out six and did not walk a batter.
- He fanned the first four batters he faced.
- Senior 1B T.J. Collett clubbed the first UK home run of the season, a two-run shot in the first inning.
- Collett now has 27 career home runs. He entered the season as the SEC’s active career leader and ninth among all Division I players.
- Senior OF Oraj Anu followed Collett’s home run with one of his own. It is the second time the two have gone back-to-back in their UK careers.
- Junior OF Cam Hill went 2-for-3 with a run, two RBI, a home run and a double.
- The hits and RBI each tied his previous career-bests.
- It was the fourth multi-RBI game of his career.
- Sophomore IF Ryan Ritter collected a single in his first career at-bat.
The Cats return to Kentucky Proud Park on Friday afternoon vs. Milwaukee. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET. The game will be aired on SECN+. The radio call will be on the UK Sports Network.