Kentucky back to winning ways with victory over Cincinnati


Junior outfielder Oraj Anu fist bumps sophomore outfielder Cam Hill during the game against Southeastern Missouri State on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Chase Phillips | Staff

Eric Decker

Kentucky averaged nearly 12 runs per game in their first five home contests of the year before limited to four total runs in their weekend series against UNC Wilmington. The Cats got back to that average today, beating Cincinnati 12-4.

Both TJ Collett and Oraj Anu blasted two home runs in the game.

“Good to see Oraj continue to swing the bat good, TJ swinging the bat good.” Coach Mingione said. “We have walks, HBP’s, stole some bases. When we’re going good, we got all of those components. And today was an example.”

Sophomore Dillon Marsh had a career day on the mound for Kentucky. He came in with an 11.37 ERA through two starts, but the lefty went six innings, striking out eight and giving up zero walks in the process.

This was the type of outing he needed after his early struggles.

“One of the things I’ve been working on a lot this year is moving on from things that I can’t control,” Marsh said. “It was good to get back out there.”

The Wildcats wasted no time today, getting a leadoff walk from Jaren Shelby and Anu following with his first home run of the day. The two-run shot into the right field bullpen was the the first of his Kentucky career.

Cincinnati tied the game at two with a second inning RBI single, and a third inning solo shot from Griffin Merritt.

John Rhodes would answer for the Cats in the bottom of the third, knocking a double passed the first base bag to score Austin Schultz and TJ Collett. The two RBI were part of a career-high three he had on the day.

The Bearcats responded with a run in the top of the fourth. Kentucky answered again though, scoring four in the bottom of the frame. Matt Golda and Chase Estep each had an RBI single in the inning. A hit by pitch with the bases loaded and a walk drawn by Coltyn Kessler that brought in the other two.

Collett slugged home runs to the back of the bullpen in consecutive at bats in the sixth and eighth innings. The first basemen now has three home runs in the past two games. 

Anu followed Collett’s eighth inning round-tripper by demolishing a ball – projected distance of 450 feet – to left for his second of the day. He became first Kentucky player since 2008 to have home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game.

While it may have been Kentucky’s first in over twelve years, it’s nothing new for Anu. He said that he accomplished the feat on his JUCO team last season.

Kentucky (6-6) is back at home tomorrow for a 4 p.m. matchup with Murray State. The game can be seen on SEC Network Plus and heard on the UK Sports Network.