Kentucky baseball sweeps season-opening series at Jacksonville State

Cole Parke

Kentucky baseball (3-0) swept Jacksonville State (0-3) in its season opening series, starting 2022 3-0 as the team heads back to Lexington.

The three-win road trip was the first of what Kentucky hopes will be many series sweeps this season, and UK’s first since sweeping Auburn on the road in March 2021.

Starting on the mound in Kentucky’s season opener, junior Cole Stupp pitched four innings, recording seven strikeouts.

Unfortunately for Stupp, it would not be the flawless start he had hoped for as the right-handed starter also allowed nine hits for six Gamecock runs.

Graduate student Daniel Harper entered in Stupp’s relief, though he struggled as well, pitching just 1.2 innings, giving up a home run.

Finally, the duo of Tyler Guilfoil and Ryan Hagenow pitched a combined 3.1 innings, putting the game away with a combined six strikeouts and no hits allowed, shutting down JSU offensively.

On offense, two Wildcats managed to hit one out of the park, while seven Wildcats recorded at least one RBI to secure the win.

Graduate student Oraj Anu was Kentucky’s best offensive weapon in the win, going 3-5 from the batter’s box with a home run to right field and three RBIs.

Junior infielder Chase Estep also hit one deep, homering down the right field line for a one-run home run, finishing the game 3-4 from the box with two RBIs and the homerun.

When the dust settled, Kentucky found themselves victorious, winning the season opener 10-8, with the first game being the closest of the series.

Back out for game two, Kentucky started sophomore Magdiel Cotto on the mound, with the transfer earning the win in his first game on the mound as a Wildcat.

Cotto threw 76 pitches over the course of four innings, recording six strikeouts while allowing three hits and two runs.

In relief, the trio of Hagenow, Darren Williams and Austin Strickland kept JSU scoreless for the remainder of the game.

Four Wildcats recorded RBIs in the winning effort, though nobody recorded more than two hits in the game. 

Leading the series 2-0, the floodgates opened for the Wildcats in game three, which saw Kentucky pull out a 15-1 win after scoring 12 runs in the final two innings alone.

Kentucky starting pitcher Tyler Bosma earned the win, pitching five innings and notching three strikeouts while allowing three hits for JSU’s lone run.

The Wildcats led just 3-1 entering the eighth inning, but a combined five Gamecock pitchers gave up 12 runs with only one of those five pitchers remaining in the game for at least a full inning.

Redshirt freshman Nolan McCarthy notched a grand slam in the top of the ninth, bringing the outfielder to five RBIs on the day with just one hit in the ballgame.

Despite having the most impactful hit of the night, McCarthy was not the only Wildcat to hit a homer in the winning effort, with senior infielder Jacob Plastiak also going yard to center field in the top of the eighth for two runs.

Heading back to its home at Kentucky Proud Park, UK looks to remain undefeated on the season against Bellarmine on Wednesday, Feb. 23. 

Kentucky’s home opener against the Knights is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. EST.