Kentucky baseball sweeps opening road series against Austin Peay


Kentucky first baseman Reed Dalton swings the ball in game three of UK’s series against Austin Peay on February 17th, 2019. Photo by Regina Rickert.

Hailey Peters

The Kentucky Wildcats opened their 2019 season with a road series against the Austin Peay State Governors during the weekend of Feb. 15-17. They closed out the series in a sweeping win (8-4, 12-5, 11-1).

The series began with a late-inning comeback win for the Cats. The Govs made strong plays in the beginning as opposed to the Cats, whose only run until the sixth inning came from junior Dalton Reed in the second. During the top of the sixth, junior Jaren Shelby homered to left center, putting the Cats up an additional run. Despite getting walked and filling bases early on, Austin Peay did not score a run until the bottom of the sixth.

In the seventh, the Govs scored an additional two runs off a triple, leaving the Cats in a two-run deficit. Rallying late in the eighth, Kentucky hit back-to-back doubles from junior Breydon Daniel and sophomore Cam Hill. Kentucky stunned the Govs with four hits, a home run by junior T.J. Collett, a stolen base from Cam Hill and several players walking, ending the inning with four additional runs.

Austin Peay was out on three hitters in the final two innings, cementing their runs at 4. In the top of the ninth, Kentucky scored two additional runs, which put them at eight total, off a homer by Daniel, three singles and another stolen base by Hill.

Saturday’s game began with two uneventful innings in which both teams got out after three or four hitters. In the third inning, that turned around for the Cats.

Senior Alex Rodriguez advanced base-by-base until he scored the first run of the game, followed by Daniel and Hill, who added two more doing the same. Collett’s second home run of the series scored the team two more runs, and Reed scored an unearned sixth after a triple and an error.

The Govs scored their first run during the fourth off a double and two walks. They added another run with a homer on the first hit during the fifth, creeping up on the Cats to make the score 6-2.

Kentucky senior Ryan Shinn gave the Cats their seventh run one base at a time in the sixth, and Austin Peay responded by doing the same to gain an extra run. The Cats continued their streak of creeping along base-by-base to score two more runs in the seventh, one in the eighth, and two in the ninth. Austin Peay only scored two more runs in the eighth off a slew of singles and doubles, ending the score at 12-5 and clinching the series for the Cats.

Sunday’s game began slow– each team only had two hits in the first five innings, and although there were bases being claimed on both ends, the teams mostly got out and the innings ended very quickly. During the first five innings, the Govs managed one run halfway through the bottom of the second off two double-hits, giving them a 1-0 lead until the sixth.

Kentucky exploded in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, while the Governors’ defense faltered. Reed’s mid-inning homer sent three Cats scoring in the sixth off only two hits and a walk. In the seventh, the Wildcats benefitted from a wild pitch to Rodriguez, sending him to second, followed by freshman Austin Shultz getting walked and a grounded double by Hill. Rodriguez and Shultz touched home, with Shultz being unearned.

The eighth inning was the last that the Cats scored, capturing six unearned runs off four hits and an error. Five of the runs occurred in back-to-back plays, and two were obtained off the same hit. Austin Peay could not bounce back in the last two innings, as they were continuously struck out by freshmen pitchers Alex Degen and Hunter Rigsby.

The Wildcats will continue their season with another road series against Texas Tech next weekend, Feb. 22-24. The first pitch on Friday is set for 7:30 p.m. ET and will air on 98.5 FM Lexington radio and