Kentucky scores the most runs in six seasons against Appalachian State


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 had one of their more explosive outings in recent memory Saturday afternoon at Kentucky Proud Park. The Wildcats (3-3) went off for 21 runs on 13 hits as they clinched the series with the sweep still in play on Sunday.  

Mason Hazelwood struggled slightly in his second start of the early season coming off an outing against TCU where he didn’t allow an earned run. Hazelwood allowed three in four innings of work to go along with two hits, two walks and striking out six.

Appalachian St. struck first when a second inning double down the left field line gave the Mountaineers a 1-0 lead. It didn’t last long as a Trae Harmon walk brought Jaren Shelby up to the plate. The center fielder launched a two-run bomb into left field to give the Cats a 2-1 lead. The home run marked the 125th straight game Kentucky has scored a run, setting a new school record.

Hazelwood began to break down in the third inning. The lefty gave up a balk with men on first and third that brought in a run for App St. and then had a 2-run dinger hit off him, giving the Mountaineers a 4-2 lead at the time. This would be the last time they would score today.

The bottom of the third was an inning unlike you usually see. Kentucky was able to score 10 runs on only three hits. The plate discipline from Kentucky was elite, also lucky, as they forced Appalachian State pitchers into four walks, a wild pitch, a passed ball, a balk and three hit by pitches in the single frame.

“To be a good offense we have to be able to control the strike zone better, and when we do that more runs will come,” head coach Nick Mingione said after the game. “I think we had seven walks and two strikeouts, that was big.” 

The inning was highlighted by a John Rhodes two-run double and a three-run homer that wrapped around the right field pole off the bat of Elliot Curtis. The inning blew open Kentucky’s lead to a 12-4 margin.

The Wildcats added another in the next inning with a pair of doubles coming from Harmon and Coltyn Kessler.

Kentucky scored four more in the fifth. First coming from an Austin Schultz sac fly, his 9th RBI on the year. Harmon then stepped up and immediately launched a homerun for his third of the year already, his second in as many days.

“I was just trying to stay back and hit something straight through right center and he missed middle in. I was just trying to get extended and it all worked out.” Harmon said.

UK was able to tack on four more runs in the 7th with the help of RBI singles from Breydon Daniel and Chase Estep. It was Estep’s first collegiate hit and RBI.

Zack Lee was very efficient in his three innings of relief today. The freshman only allowed one hit while striking out four and giving up no runs. He was followed by Will Gambino who only needed to face three batters to get through the eighth. Ron Cole finished the game off in the ninth.

“I thought Zack Lee was in total control, that was big… He moved the game along I thought that was good.” Coach Mingione said

Kentucky is back Sunday afternoon trying to complete the series sweep against the Mountaineers with Dillon Marsh set to start for the Cats.