Kentucky defeats Murray State on walk-off home run


Sophomore pitcher Braxton Cottongame high fives a teammate after a scoreless inning during the game against Southeastern Missouri State on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Chase Phillips | Staff

Eric Decker

Kentucky baseball outlasted in-state foe Murray State on Tuesday in an 9-8 battle thanks to a walk off home run from John Rhodes.

The homer was the first of his collegiate career, and gets Kentucky back over .500.

“It’s something you dream about every night,” an elated Rhodes said. “I committed here a long time ago it seems like and those moments kept repeating in my head… it’s crazy it’s coming true.”

It only took a little over ten minutes for the Cats to find themselves down substantially. The Racers scored four times in the top of the first off of Cole Stupp, including a two-run blast from from Ryan Perkins that hit off the scoreboard in right center.

“We didn’t get off to a good start,” coach Mingione said. “That first inning we gave up four and all of a sudden you’re chasing for runs… the positive is that we fought back.”

Kentucky (7-6) got one back in the bottom of the first when TJ Collett singled home Austin Schultz from second base.

Stupp settled down for a couple innings, but was pulled in the

fourth after letting two men on base. The freshman ended his day with three and a third innings pitched, six hits, and six earned runs.

“If I have a day like this it grieves on me,” Stupp said. “I’ll try to work out of it… it can only go up from here.”

Three straight walks by Murray State brought home one of two second inning runs for the Wildcats. Tanner Holen brought in the other by way of a sac fly.

Kentucky increased their run output in each of the first three innings, seemingly breaking the game open with a four-run third. Rhodes started it off with an RBI single to center, tying the game while reaching base in his seventh consecutive plate appearance.

A two-run double by Matt Golda put Kentucky in front, and RBI single for Chase Estep increased the lead. 

After a one-out appearance from Will Gambino, Cole Daniels came in and was simply fantastic. The lefty went two and a third innings of no-hit ball, striking out two and walking none.

Hunter Rigsby surrendered the tying runs in the top of the ninth, suffering his a blown. But because of Rhodes’ heroics, he picked up the victory.

Kentucky now awaits Bradley University for a weekend series once again at

Kentucky Proud Park. The Braves come into the series at 4-6 on the year but currently possess a three-game win streak. The first game is set for Friday at 4 p.m.