Kentucky baseball defeats Western Michigan 14-3, remains undefeated


Kentucky Wildcats outfielder Hunter Jump (10) runs to first base during the UK vs. Bellarmine baseball game on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 3-2. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Scott Clarke

Kentucky baseball (5-0) maintained a perfect record in the 2022 season as it beat Western Michigan (1-3) 14-3 at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington on Friday.

Cole Stupp started on the hill for the second time this year for Kentucky, while Jack Huisman started for Western Michigan.

Stupp ran into trouble in the opening frame, allowing the first two batters to reach base, though he quickly got back on track, sitting down the next three batters.

In the bottom of the first, Kentucky started hot with Ryan Ritter leading off with a walk and being driven home by an RBI double from Hunter Jump. 

Adam Fogel then drove Jump home with an RBI groundout to add to Kentucky’s lead and make the score 2-0.

The Wildcats would add one more run in the first with an Oraj Anu RBI double, pushing the lead to 3-0 at the end of the inning.

Inning two brought more success for the bats of UK, as John Thrasher drew a 14-pitch-lead-off-walk, stole second and forced a balk before being driven home due to an error by the Broncos’ defense, all after another scoreless inning from Stupp in the top half of the inning.

With the score now 4-0 in favor of UK, a few more Wildcats reached base, bringing in a new pitcher for WMU in Joe Shapiro. 

Shapiro immediately gave up a run via a wild pitch which scored Ritter, pushing the lead up to five. 

In the third, Stupp found trouble again, this time with the bases loaded and only one out. 

Unfortunately for the Cats, he was not able to get out of the jam unscathed, as Gavin Doyle drove home a run with an RBI single, bringing the score to 5-1.

Stupp then struck out the next two batters, getting out of the inning having allowed minimal damage.

The Cats regained the run back in a hurry in the bottom half of the inning, as Daniel Harris IV got on base with a double and stole third. 

Alonzo Rubalcaba then came up clutch with his first home run of the year, a two-run shot over the left field wall, to give the Cats a 7-1 lead.

Kentucky continued to impose danger for WMU, as two more Cats were able to get on base after Rubalcaba’s homer, though they would be unable to capitalize, keeping the lead at six runs.

After another scoreless inning from Stupp, the Cats picked up right where they left off in the third, extending their lead again, this time to 11.

Jacob Plastiak led off the inning with a double before being brought home by a Chase Estep triple. 

A sacrifice fly from Anu then brought Estep home before Harris and Rubalcaba reached base, with Thrasher eventually driving Harris home. 

Ritter would then earn two RBIs off a double that drove home Rubalcaba and Thrasher.

The Broncos would get a run back in the fifth, thanks to a Will Morrison RBI double, though it would be the only run they could muster as Stupp shut the door afterwards.

Kentucky responded with two more runs in the bottom half of the inning, as Estep singled home Plastiak and Anu grounded into a double play, scoring Fogel.

Both teams were unable to score in innings six and seven as Wyatt Hudepohl and Mason Moore combined for two shutout innings in relief for Kentucky, and Ethan Houghtaling pitched three scoreless innings for the Broncos.

WMU was able to get a run back in the eighth on Kentucky’s Jackson Nove thanks to a solo-home-run from Ryan Missal. 

Despite allowing the solo shot, Nove was able to stop the bleeding and get out of the inning with just the one earned run.

Colby Freida then secured the 14-3 victory for the Cats in the ninth as he sat Western Michigan down in order to end the game.

Stupp was credited with the win, finishing with five innings pitched, eight hits allowed, two walks and nine strikeouts. 

Huisman took the loss for Western Michigan, finishing with 1.1 innings pitched, two hits, three walks and four earned runs.

With the victory, Kentucky improves to 5-0 on the year, in big part due to its hot bats, a good bullpen and timely hitting. 

Prior to the Missal home run, the Cats’ bullpen had pitched 18.1 straight scoreless innings, dating back to its opening series against Jacksonville State.

The Cats will look to improve to 6-0 in game two of the Western Michigan series on Saturday, Feb. 25, at 1 p.m. EST.