Cats kick off 2021 with 5-1 win versus visiting Redhawks


Kentucky Wildcat Cam Hill (37) celebrates with his teammates after hitting a home run during the University of Kentucky vs. Miami Ohio game on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 5-1. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Eric Decker

Kentucky baseball carried its 2020 success into the start of the 2021 campaign, beginning one the right foot with a 5-1 victory over Miami (OH). But a glimpse into the future may be what has BBN excited about today’s debut.

Touted as the second-best recruit to come to Lexington, pitcher Ryan Hagenow had seen buzz surrounding his Wildcat arrival throughout the offseason. Despite all the hype – and a small sample size – he possibly exceeded expectations during his first appearance on the mound.

The 6-foot-5 right-hander was pulled after only 58 pitches, but threw , tossing four innings of one hit ball and with six strikeouts and zero walks.

“He was special,” head coach Nick Mingione said postgame. “He was everything that we thought he’d be, and [we’re] just happy for him to get going. Usually, freshman have the opportunity to maybe watch a game or two… he didn’t have that… but he was really special.”

After averaging nearly eight runs a game last season – again, albeit with limited sample size – Kentucky wasted no time to keep up the run production.

Following an Austin Schultz single, Preseason All-American T.J. Collett immediately reminded everyone of the power his bat packs by cranking a two-run shot to straightaway center. There have been only three home runs to that area of Kentucky Proud Park in its three-year existence, two of which belong to the Terre Haute, Ind. native.

Collett wasn’t the only one to muscle one out of the yard. Oraj Anu and Cam Hill both homered later in the inning as well. pushing the Wildcat lead to four after the first frame.

Hill, who suffered a broken wrist just seven games in last season that ended his season prematurely, looked comfortable back on the diamond. Following the home run, he ripped an RBI double into the left-centerfield gap to bring Alonzo Rubalcaba for what was ultimately the final Kentucky run.

“I thought [Hill] played with tremendous energy. Even the players complimented him after the game.” Mingione told reporters. “He’s had an awesome early spring. Since we’ve been back, he’s played as good as anyone we have.”

Holt Jones and Mason Hazelwood, who typically starts games for the Cats, finished with solid performances on the back end.

“We gave Holt the clean innings. First time in a Kentucky uniform and we give him a clean inning,” Mingione said. “[And] obviously it was really comfortable and good for us to finish with Mason.”

The Cats host their first series of the year this weekend, when Milwaukee comes to town for three games. Each meeting is slated to be broadcast on SEC Network Plus, with first pitch for Friday’s series opener set for 4:00 p.m. E.T.