Kentucky swamped 9-2 by Florida in Gainesville


Kentucky Wildcats infielder Chase Estep (12) fixes his hair during the UK vs. Morehead State baseball game on Tuesday, March 22, 2022, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 7-5. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Cole Parke

Kentucky (23-19) was defeated 9-2 by Florida (24-17) in Gainesville on Friday, falling behind in what will be a three-game series.

Since starting conference play on March 18, Kentucky has gone 1-6 in game one of each SEC series, going on to win only one of those sets.

Graduate student Mason Hazelwood started on the mound for Kentucky, going on to take the loss for the game after giving up five of Florida’s nine total runs.

Things got off to a rocky start for the lefty, as he gave up a lead-off home run to the first batter he faced in the first inning, putting the Wildcats in a hole early.

Hazelwood found his groove for the second and third innings, but crumbled in the fourth, earning four more runs scored against him to bring his season ERA up to 5.48.

Fellow graduate student Daniel Harper entered the game in Hazelwood’s relief, having a sturdy, albeit brief tenure on the mound, pitching just one inning and throwing a total of 12 pitches.

After Harper, Kentucky head coach Nick Mingione opted to try out freshman Mason Moore on the mound, but like Hazelwood in the starting role, the Gators cracked the righty with relative ease, adding three more runs before Moore was pulled after one inning pitched.

Still hoping to develop younger arms, Mingione turned to freshman Jackson Nove, who was unable to prevent the Gators from adding to their lead, allowing Florida’s ninth and final run to score during his 1.2 innings on the mound.

Seeing Nove in a tight spot to close the game, Mingione pulled the lefty in favor of fellow freshman Colby Frieda, who secured the final out via flyout.

As a unit, Kentucky’s pitchers pitched eight innings, not pitching the ninth due to Florida being the home team, and were only able to amass five strikeouts throughout the night, with three coming from Hazelwood early on.

Kentucky’s pitchers gave up 10 total hits, only one more than the Wildcats themselves recorded, with two of the hits being home runs.

Looking at UK’s offense, barring one hitter, Jacob Plastiak, who recorded three hits in four at-bats, no hitter recorded more than one hit all night, though seven recorded at least one.

Both of Kentucky’s runs came via home runs, with the first coming from Plastiak in the eighth, and the second coming courtesy of redshirt freshman Devin Burkes, his first of the season.

The latter home run nearly went down in infamy, with Burkes making the questionable decision to watch his ball fly and toss his bat halfway down the baseline, something the Gators’ dugout wasn’t too keen on.

Regardless, things were prevented from escalating and the Wildcats would be put down not long after to fall to 6-13 in the SEC and 5-10 in road games.

The Wildcats return to action on Saturday, April 30, in game two against the Gators, with the first pitch being scheduled for 6 p.m. EST and airing live on the SEC Network+.