NASHVILLE – Jaren Shelby launched a tape-measure three-run home run with two outs in the eighth inning to cap a four-run uprising as Kentucky outlasted Lipscomb 6-2 on Wednesday night in the Music City.
With the win the Wildcats kept their perfect record against non-Power Five teams intact this season at 16-0 and upped that mark to 51-5 during head coach Nick Mingione’s tenure. It wasn’t easy but the Cats (18-15) took advantage of several fortuitous plays before letting Shelby’s prodigious blast provide some late-inning breathing room.
Shelby, a junior outfielder, now has homered in four of the past six games, all of which have come in the eighth inning. All four have carried significance, with one giving the Cats the lead, one tying the game and two providing additional cushion to a one-run lead. For the season, Shelby has six home runs and 30 RBI.
The Cats took a 2-0 lead in the fifth when Mother Nature intervened with a bit of good fortune. Alex Rodriguez skied a fly ball into shallow left field that disappeared into the twilight before falling between three Lipscomb defenders for a two-run double.
A solo home run in the fifth drew the Bisons (15-17) within a run before a wild final play of the sixth inning benefitted both clubs. With runners on second and third and one out, Lipscomb’s Haddon Adams hit a long fly ball down the right field line that Shelby raced after and made a full-extension diving grab on as he landed in foul territory. The runner from third scored to tie the game but the Cats nailed the trail runner trying to score to end the threat.
UK’s eighth inning rally saw the go-ahead run score on a two-out, bases loaded throwing error on an errant pickoff throw to second. Later in the same at bat Shelby sent a full count pitch soaring into the Nashville night to provide all the runs the Cats would need to close out the victory.
Top 5th– TJ Collett reached on a long single to right field. Cam Hill reached first base on a bunt, advancing Collett to second. Alex Rodriguez doubled to left field, scoring Collett and Hill. UK 2, Lipscomb 0.
Bottom 5th– Cade Sorrells homered to right center. UK 2, Lipscomb 1.
Bottom 6th – David Graves and Jackson Furstance walked. Chaz Bertolani batted a sacrifice bunt, advancing Graves and Furstance. Haddon Adams had a sacrifice fly caught on the warning track in right field, scoring Graves. Furstance tried to take home on the play, but was out at the plate. UK 2, Lipscomb 2.
Top 8th – Breydon Daniel walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Austin Schultz walked. Coltyn Kessler walked, advancing Daniel and Schultz. Daniel scored on an error on a pick off. Jaren Shelby homered to left center, scoring Schultz and Kessler. UK 6, Lipscomb 2.
• Kentucky has scored in 97 consecutive games and 173 of the past 174 dating to the 2016 season. The lone shutout came in a seven-inning game. The current streak now is the third-longest in school history.
• The Wildcats now are 16-0 this season against non-Power Five opponents and 51-5 in head coach Nick Mingione’s tenure against such foes.
• Freshman IF Austin Schultz extended his reached base safely streak to 23 games and hit streak to eight games with a single to open the game.
o The eight-game hit streak is a career-long.
• Junior OF Jaren Shelby blasted a three-run home run as part of a night that also saw him make another highlight reel catch.
o Shelby now has homered in four of the past six games.
o All four of those home runs have come in the eighth inning.
o He has six homers on the season and 30 RBI.