UK baseball’s defense suffers in loss to Florida


Kentucky Wildcats pitcher Sean Hjelle takes a moment to collect himself prior to starting the eighth inning of the region championship game of the Lexington Regional at Cliff Hagan Stadium on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

Charlee Schaefer

The No. 6 UK Baseball team dropped game one of its series against No. 1 Florida on Thursday evening, 2-11.

The coaching staff made the decision to change the pitching rotation for the series and changed the game one and two typical starters.

UK’s pitching may not have shined, but Florida’s certainly did.

Florida’s Brady Singer lived up to his reputation. The right-hander is projected to go first overall in the 2018 MLB Draft and stunned with his fastball location and slider. Singer went seven innings in which he recorded ten strikeouts and allowed only two runs.

UK’s starter Zach Haake cruised through the first two innings, striking out three and allowing no hits. He threw 17 of 28 pitches for strikes.

UK head coach Nick Mingione said Haake will likely be used for relief in the remaining games this weekend.

Fans were shocked at the pitching change made in the top of the third and immediately took to Twitter. The official Kentucky Baseball account is loaded with replies about “poor coaching decisions” made by UK.

A tweet from @ukcats75 said, “Tell nick he’s now made the dumbest coaching decision ever in the history of any game.”

“That’s a really good thing,” Mingione said. “I want people that care and if the fans are talking good or bad about our program, that’s a good thing.”

The club’s current 5.07 ERA is currently the worst in the SEC.

Mason Hazelwood relieved Haake in the top of the third. He hit the first batter and walked another, struggling to throw strikes. This was the start to a six-run inning and the Gators’ largest offensive assault.

The Cats used seven pitchers, none of whom went more than two innings. Mingione called it a bit of a “relay race.” This is the second time this week they have had to use seven pitchers.

In game two on Friday, UK’s ace Sean Hjelle will face Jackson Kowar. The right-handers will battle as UK tries to even the series.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium.