UK baseball notches third shutout of season


Kentucky junior T.J. Collett hits the ball during the season home opener against EKU on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky defeated EKU 7-3. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Hailey Peters

Continuing their second homestand at Kentucky Proud Park, the Kentucky Wildcats baseball team faced off against in-state rival Morehead State on Tuesday. After giving up 17 runs in the previous game against Texas A&M, the Cats shocked the competition with their third shutout of the season, 7-0.

“It’s huge to have this third shutout in the season,” UK head coach Nick Mingione said. “Last year we had one. We have a whole new team and already have three.”

The Morehead State Eagles began their game with weak pitching and field defense. Kentucky was able to score two runs off no hits in the first after being walked three times and eventually scored on a fielding error.

Pitching was a strength for the Cats against MSU– starter Mason Hazelwood successfully retired 21 batters in 6 innings, and finished 3 innings with only three batters going up for the Eagles. He reached a career-high innings at six and pitches at 97.

“My fastball was really there for me tonight,” Hazelwood said. “I didn’t have my strikeout stuff that I feel like I normally do, but the defense was really strong behind me. Coach has been working with me a lot with tempo here lately… once I get into a groove, everything’s going to fall in and I need to trust it.”

The Cats scored again in the fifth on an error reach from junior T.J. Collett. Junior Breydon Daniel touched home after singling followed by senior Ryan Shinn hitting his 12th double this season, which ties him for seventh most doubles of any player at the national level. Shinn and Collett scored two more runs for the Cats after junior Jaren Shelby also reached on an error from the opposing team.

MSU’s pitfalls continued in the sixth, and Kentucky netted another run off a defensive play resulting in both a throwing and fielding error. Relief pitcher Cole Ayers continued Hazelwood’s streak of high-caliber pitching to keep the Cats soaring above the scoreless Eagles.

Kentucky rang in its seventh and final run in the bottom of the eighth. Sophomore Coltyn Kessler scored an RBI to send Shelby running home. Ending pitcher Hunter Rigsby retired the first three batters in the ninth to cement the game as a shutout.

“We’ve got to get better at conference play, there’s no question,” Mingione said. “We’re going to work on carrying this over to Thursday. It’s a quick turnaround, but we’re ready.”

The Cats will return to Kentucky Proud Park on Thursday, March 28, against conference foe Georgia at 7 p.m. The game will be the first UK baseball game broadcast on SEC Network this season.