Power of Three: Emotional first inning fuels Kentucky Baseball

The Wildcats honor Ben Jordan, deliver impressive season-opening win

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – The undeniable power of “3” made its presence felt in Kentucky baseball’s first game since the death of Ben Jordan, the affable pitcher who wore the number throughout his career.

The Wildcats honored their fallen teammate in a pregame moment of silence then watched as freshman pitcher Ryan Hagenow struck out all three batters he faced in his first collegiate inning. Moments later, the Cats clobbered three home runs in their first trip to the plate, fueling a 5-1 season-opening victory over Miami (Ohio) at Kentucky Proud Park on Tuesday.

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“You can’t draw up a better first (inning),” UK coach Nick Mingione said.

Hagenow, the second-highest rated recruit ever to arrive at UK, delivered a memorable debut. He struck out the first four batters he faced and allowed just one hit with no walks in four scoreless innings, earning his first collegiate victory.

On the flip side, the Cats’ veteran offense wasted no time flexing its muscle. Junior preseason All-American Austin Schultz led off with a clean single and scored two batters later when senior first baseman T.J. Collett smacked a home run to straightaway centerfield, the 27th of his career. Senior outfielder Oraj Anu followed with a blast before junior outfielder Cam Hill capped the outburst with a solo shot to make it 4-0 before the crowd settled into its seat.

The win was UK’s seventh consecutive dating back to last season, which was canceled on Mar. 13, 2020 after just 17 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

GAME SCORING
Bottom 1st – Austin Schultz singled up the middle and scored on T.J. Collett’s home run to CF. Oraj Anu homered to RCF. Cam Hill homered to LCF. UK 4, Miami 0.

Bottom 3rd – Alonzo Rubalcaba doubled to LCF and scored on Hill’s double to LCF. UK 5, Miami 0.

Top 5th – Wardwell doubled to LF and Massman walked. Tejada reached on an error, loading the bases. Zapp singled through the infield, scoring Wardwell. UK 5, Miami 1.

NOTES
Kentucky opened its season at home for the first time since 1983, a doubleheader sweep of St. Xavier.
UK is 3-2 in season openers under head coach Nick Mingione.
UK currently has a seven-game winning streak dating to the 2020 season.
The UK pitching staff has 15 consecutive games with eight or more strikeouts, including 13 with 10 or more.
Six players made their Kentucky debut: RHP Ryan Hagenow, RHP Wyatt Hudepohl, RHP Holt Jones, IF Jake Plastiak, IF Ryan Ritter and C Alonzo Rubalcaba.

Freshman RHP Ryan Hagenow earned his first collegiate win in his debut, tossing 4.0 innings of one-hit, scoreless baseball.
Hagenow struck out six and did not walk a batter.
He fanned the first four batters he faced.

Senior 1B T.J. Collett clubbed the first UK home run of the season, a two-run shot in the first inning.
Collett now has 27 career home runs. He entered the season as the SEC’s active career leader and ninth among all Division I players.

Senior OF Oraj Anu followed Collett’s home run with one of his own. It is the second time the two have gone back-to-back in their UK careers.

Junior OF Cam Hill went 2-for-3 with a run, two RBI, a home run and a double.
The hits and RBI each tied his previous career-bests.
It was the fourth multi-RBI game of his career.

Sophomore IF Ryan Ritter collected a single in his first career at-bat.

ON DECK
The Cats return to Kentucky Proud Park on Friday afternoon vs. Milwaukee. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET. The game will be aired on SECN+. The radio call will be on the UK Sports Network.

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Bryan Kennedy hails from the Bluegrass State. He was born and raised in Owensboro, KY where he graduated from Apollo High School in 2006. Bryan graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Spanish in 2010. He also received his master's degree in Sports Media and Branding from Western Kentucky University. While at UK, Bryan was the general manager of the on-campus TV station. He also did sports reporting, anchoring, producing and even the weather for UK Student News Network. While working for UKSNN, he also had the pleasure of covering Coach John Calipari's first press conference when he was introduced as the new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats; easily one of his favorite moments as a young sports reporter. Before coming to ABC 36, Bryan was a morning anchor and reporter at WXXV News 25, our sister station in Gulfport, MS. He anchored more than four hours of news every day, including morning shows on NBC and Fox. While down south, Bryan had the opportunity to cover the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. After spending a little more than two years at WXXV, Bryan is extremely excited to return home. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys playing sports, especially rugby. He also enjoys crossfitting and watching sports (obviously). He's extremely excited to cover Central Kentucky. Feel free to say hello and send story ideas toBKennedy@wtvq.com