UK baseball’s offense continues to shine in Houston


Outfielder Ryan Johnson celebrates his homerun in the bottom of the ninth during the game against WKU on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won the game 4-3. Photo by Hunter Mitchell.

Charlee Schaefer

The No. 7 UK baseball team played in its first game of the Shriners Hospital for Children College Classic on Friday at Minute Maid Park and came out with a 14-2 victory over the Houston Cougars. 

The win brings the Cats to 9-1 on the season. After today’s game, they have now scored 10 or more runs in five games this season, four of which came in their last five games. 

Kole Cottam, Ryan Johnson and Luke Heyer all hit home runs at the home of the 2017 World Series champions; Heyer hit two in almost the same location.

Johnson has homered in the last three games and is making his presence known both in the outfield and at the plate. He is at his third school in three years and seems to finally have found his home. 

“We got a lot of good JUCO players in and they’ve stepped up and we knew we have a lot of good bats. We didn’t really know how it was going to fit but it’s fitting well, nice, and we’re stringing them together. There’s a lot of quality at-bats to go,” Heyer said after the game.

“It’s hard to take him out of the lineup. He’s played third base, played left field, he’s swinging the bat as good as anybody we have on our team so we just keep running him out there,” said head coach Nick Mingione post-game about Heyer.

As a whole, the entire offense logged 12 base hits on 35 at-bats. Johnson and Ben Aklinski both recorded three hits in the game, with Aklinski also adding two doubles and 4 RBI.

Junior right-handed pitcher Sean Hjelle made his third start of the season but had a relatively lackluster outing. Hjelle had a very rough start in the bottom of the first when he lost his footing coming off the mound on what should have been a routine ground ball. 

Hjelle continued to struggle through five more innings before being replaced by Carson Coleman. Hjelle recorded a season-low two strikeouts.  

Coleman loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh and the Cats looked to Alec Maley to finish things out. After a pop-out and a strikeout, the game ended on a run rule.

The Cats will next play Sam Houston State on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET at Minute Maid Park.