Kentucky’s winning streak ends in series opener versus UNC Wilmington


Sophomore pitcher Braxton Cottongame throws a pitch during the game against Southeastern Missouri State on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Chase Phillips | Staff

Eric Decker

Kentucky’s weekend series got off to a cold start, UNC Wilmington came into Kentucky Proud Park and shutout the Cats 8-0.

The shutout ended the team’s 127-game scoring streak, a school record that was set just two games ago.

“We didn’t do enough to win the game tonight” Coach Mingione said postgame. “We hit some balls hard and they made some plays.”

Kentucky (5-4) sent righty Jimmy Ramsey to the hill looking to keep its five-game winning streak alive.

Each of the Seahawks’ first two batters reached on infield singles. A throwing error on the second let the leadoff man sprint to third, immediately giving Ramsey runners on the corners with no outs. RBI singles from Cole Weiss and Jac Croom put UNC Wilmington up 2-0 before Kentucky even stepped into the box.

That was all Zarion Sharpe, the ace of the Seahawk staff, would need. He was stellar, going seven innings of scoreless ball with just four hits and two walks. It was his second straight game going seven without allowing a run, dropping his ERA to a minute 0.96 through three starts.

Ramsey made it through five innings despite giving up nine hits. He fought out of a few jams, allowing only three runs while dealing with a lot of action on the basepaths.

Braxton Cottongame, who was scheduled to start the postponed game on Tuesday, entered in the sixth inning. He started strong, sitting down the first two batters he faced on strikes. But the next two Seahawks, Matt Suggs and Cole Weiss, took him deep to right field to bust the game open at 5-0.

Kentucky had opportunities in the later innings, but didn’t capitalize. After a single by Chase Estep in the sixth, Trae Harmon launched a foul ball that would have been a home run before getting out. TJ Collett and Austin Schultz walked to load the bases for John Rhodes with two outs, but he grounded out to end the inning.

Then in the eighth, the Cats had runners on second and third with one out. But Collett struck out swinging and Schultz grounded out to end the threat.

UNC Wilmington added three runs in the ninth for the final margin.

Schultz singled in the second for the Cats’ first hit, extending his consecutive on-base streak to 22 games. Overall, he has reached safely in 49 of his past 51 contests.

Kentucky aims to bounce back and tie up the series tomorrow afternoon in game two with the Seahawks. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET. Mason Hazelwood is set to get the start. The game can be seen on SEC Network plus and heard on the UK Sports Network.