Kentucky baseball clinches opening series after defeating Elon 4-0


Kentucky Wildcat Ryan Hagenow (24) pitches during the University of Kentucky vs. Eastern Kentucky University baseball game on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 6-3 Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Colton Johnson, Reporter

Kentucky baseball (2-1) wrapped up its first series on Sunday with a 4-0 win over Elon (1-2) in game three to clinch its series at Latham Park in Elon, North Carolina.  

The win came after the Wildcats fell in game one 2-0 and bounced back in game two, winning 5-1 to force a winner-takes-all game three.

Kentucky jumped ahead to an early lead in the first inning after a forced walk by sophomore Ryan Waldschmidt was followed by a balk and a stolen base, putting Waldschmidt in scoring position at third base.

Waldschmidt was driven home shortly after by a one-out RBI single from sophomore infielder Emilien Pitre, the first of his career-high four hits on the night to give Kentucky an early 1-0 lead.

Senior Zack Lee would start on the mound as Kentucky’s defense took the field in the first, recording a strikeout as he retired the first three batters he faced.

After a hitless top of the second from the Wildcats, Lee would tack on two more strikeouts in the bottom of the second to keep Kentucky’s shutout hopes alive.

Both defenses would settle in the third and fourth innings with neither team surrendering a run and Lee adding four more strikeouts to his tally.

Things would change in the top of the fifth when a single from Waldschmidt was followed by the first Wildcat home run of the season courtesy of redshirt sophomore Devin Burkes, who expanded Kentucky’s lead to three.

After Kentucky failed to score in the top of the sixth, a pitching change would be made as senior Ryder Giles made his debut as a Wildcat, sending Lee to the dugout after recording seven strikeouts in five innings pitched.

Waldschmidt would then record his second hit of the game in the top of the seventh with a double down the left field line but would be stranded on third after the next three batters failed to record a hit.

Giles would be sent to the dugout in the bottom of the seventh after only facing four batters and recording a strikeout, with junior Magdiel Cotto making his season debut.

The Wildcats would score their final run of the day in the top of the eighth when redshirt senior Hunter Gilliam’s single was followed by an error on a pickoff attempt, allowing Gilliam to advance to third.

Gilliam would be plated shortly after when senior Jackson Gray sent a single into left-center field, scoring Gilliam and giving Kentucky a 4-0 lead.

Another pitching change would be made in the bottom of the eighth when junior Ryan Hagenow made his season debut, replacing Cotto, with the latter only facing three hitters and recording a strikeout.

After a one-hit ninth inning for Kentucky, another pitching change would be in the cards for the Wildcats as junior Seth Chavez would also make his debut as a Wildcat, recording two strikeouts to ensure the 4-0 shutout win for Kentucky.

The Wildcats will look to keep the momentum rolling when they head back to Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington to take on Evansville (0-3) in their home opener on Feb. 21 at 4 p.m. EST.