Kentucky begins Appalachian State series with win


Senior outfielder Jaren Shelby makes contact during the game against Southeastern Missouri State on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Chase Phillips | Staff

Eric Decker

Kentucky continued its offensive explosion at home, taking the first game of its weekend series against Appalachian State 7-3.

Making his first start of the season at Kentucky Proud Park, Jimmy Ramsey delivered a stellar performance. The right-hander went 5.1 innings of two-hit, two-run ball while striking out four.

“[Ramsey] gave us a chance to move the game along,” Coach Nick Mingione said.

The junior came out firing, retiring the first six batters he faced. He began to have some control trouble in the third and fourth innings, and the Mountaineers loaded the bases in both frames. But Ramsey battled, and managed to keep them off the scoreboard in each inning, ending the fourth with a big strikeout. He now sits with a 2.89 ERA through two starts.

“I love the way he competed there with the bases loaded,” Mingione added.

Kentucky (2-3) was held hitless for the first three innings before Trae Harmon stepped up to lead off the 4th. The slugger mashed an absolute rocket to left field that gave the Cats a 1-0 lead. The round-tripper came off the bat at 106 MPH, and gave Kentucky its 124th consecutive game with a run to tie the school record.

Later in the fourth, TJ Collett and Austin Schultz doubled back-to-back to right field. Schultz’s knock scored Collett and made it 2-0. Schultz would bring in two more in the fifth with a single, bringing his early-season RBI total to 8 and putting the Cats up 5-0. 

“[Schultz’s] a premier player,” Mingione said. “He’s so good in RBI situations. When you just think about him using the entire field, he can do it.”

Appalachian State finally dented the scoreboard with a three-run sixth. Kentucky countered by the way of Jaren Shelby. The center fielder found his way on base via walk and then stole second. A wild pitch from the opposing pitcher sent him to third, and he made his way home after the catcher threw the ball into left field to make it 6-3.

Collett collected his first home run of the year in the next inning, going deep to center field.

“It felt good,” he said after the game. “I needed to get the first one out of the way.”

The combination of Cole Stupp and Hunter Rigsby in relief was as superb as Ramsey was, allowing one run in 3.2 innings of. Rigsby closed out the game in dominant fashion by striking out the side in the ninth.

Kentucky can claim the series win over the Mountaineers and get to .500 on the year tomorrow afternoon. The game can be seen on SEC Network+ at 1:00 p.m.