Comeback Cats walkoff in the 9th to beat WKU


Pitcher Zach Haake pitches the ball 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 recorded its first walk-off win under second-year head coach Nick Mingione on Tuesday by a final score of 4-3, beating the WKU Hilltoppers.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Daniel Harper got his second career start on Tuesday. Harper pitched five complete innings but had a bit of a rocky start, allowing three runs and striking out two batters.

The Hilltoppers got the early lead in the top of the second inning when Tyler Robertson hit a sacrifice fly that brought in Colie Currie for the first run of the game.

The score remained 1-0 until the fifth inning, when Ray Zuberer III hit a two-run home run off the right field foul pole. This would end the night for Harper.

Left-hander Brad Schaenzer replaced Harper in the top of the sixth and right hander Jimmy Ramsey came in with one out remaining in the seventh. Schaenzer and Ramsey each pitched a little over an inning and recorded a combined three strikeouts and did not allow any runs.

Junior college transfer Zach Haake made his debut for the Cats after breaking his non-pitching hand a few weeks ago and getting a late start to his season. Haake replaced Ramsey in the ninth inning and allowed one hit and struck three batters out, with his pitches topping-out at 96 miles per hour. 

“I am really proud of Zach Haake. You know what, he threw a couple of balls up to start but man did he throw some awesome pitches. He located multiple pitches for a strike and he looked like he was in control,” Mingione said post-game.

In the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Johnson cracked the game wide open with a massive shot to right field. Troy Squires came to the plate soon after and singled, bringing in Luke Heyer and Trey Dawson to tie the game at 3-3.

Nothing seemed to go right for the Hilltoppers in the bottom of the ninth and their defense fell apart after the tying run was scored. After back-to-back pitches passed the catcher and hit the backstop, the Cats won, scoring all four runs in the ninth inning.

“For our players to be in a very similar situation and to do basically the total opposite of what we did a week ago today, I am just so proud of them and I am so thankful for the Big Blue Nation to come out because obviously that was a home field advantage and I believe in my heart that our fans helped us get that win today,” Mingione said.

The Cats will next travel to Houston, Texas, this weekend to play in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Classic against three teams who were ranked in preseason polls. All games will be played at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros.