Wildcats now 5-0 after beating Eastern Kentucky


Kentucky Wildcat Austin Shultz (2) celebrates a three base hit during the University of Kentucky vs. Eastern Kentucky University baseball game on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 6-3 Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Kennedy Whitby

Coming off a 9-3 win vs. Milwaukee on Saturday, Kentucky aimed to continue its unbeaten start against nearby Eastern Kentucky. The Wildcats wasted little time in their conquest, starting off the first inning with a bang.

Leadoff hitter Austin Schultz, who came into the game batting .385, smacked a 3-1 pitch into right center field and raced around to third for a triple to open the game. Schultz scored a few minutes later when senior first baseman T.J Collet singled, putting Kentucky up 1-0 just three batters in.

Freshman Rueben Church kept the first inning rolling when he stepped to the plate. The team’s leader in batting average – who sat at .600 before his most recent outing, good for third in the NCAA – delivered the second Wildcat triple of the day, also to right center, bringing in Collett to double the Kentucky lead. Colonel right fielder Kendal Ewell’s mishandling of the ball in the outfield contributed to Collett getting home.

The second inning in was uneventful, but the Cats tacked on a third run in the bottom of the third. Oraj Anu hit a double into left field, scoring John Rhodes from first base. Up 3-0, the Cats were feeling comfortable. But their situation didn’t remain that way.

Unlike the weather, the Colonels began to heat up in the fourth inning. Sophomore Brent Lovell, averaging .190 on the year, singled to right field to lead off the frame. Charlie Ludwick followed his example by doing the same, moving Lovell to third base. After the next two hitters each got out, EKU left fielder Max Williams slapped another single to right, plating Lovell for the first Colonel run.

Still hot in the fifth, the Colonels tied the game off of runs from Logan Thomason and Daniel Harris IV. Thomason reached second via double, but was able to score after a passed ball and wild pitch let him move up a base each time. Harris advanced to second and third on the two mishaps before coming home on a sacrifice fly from Lovell.

Knotted at three, the Wildcats had to answer back if they wanted to remain undefeated. Austin Schultz got hit by a pitch, then scored on Rhodes’ two-run home run in the bottom of the inning, ultimately putting Kentucky ahead for good. Zeke Lewis ran home on a sacrifice fly from Collett in the sixth, representing the final run of the game.

Wildcat head coach Nick Mingione gave reliever Cole Daniels a round of applause after the game. The junior left hander pitched the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, punching out seven Colonels swinging without allowing a baserunner, a very impressive showing.

“Daniels just took control of the game,” Mingione said.

Now 5-0 for the first time since 2012, Kentucky faces the University of Evansville later today at 4:00 p.m. E.T. on SEC Network Plus.