CatsIllustrated - Big first inning carries Cats to win in season opener
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Big first inning carries Cats to win in season opener

Kentucky first baseman T.J. Collett watched his first-inning home run sail over the fence in centerfield.
Kentucky first baseman T.J. Collett watched his first-inning home run sail over the fence in centerfield. (Jeff Drummond/Cats Illustrated)

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky looked like a team that was eager to get back on the diamond after a Covid-induced 350-day layoff on Tuesday in its season opener against Miami (Ohio).

The Wildcats' starter, Ryan Hagenow, struck out the side in the top of the first inning, and the UK lineup pounded three home runs in the bottom of the inning to get Kentucky rolling on its way to a 5-1 win at Kentucky Proud Park.

T.J. Collett, Oraj Anu, and Cam Hill each homered in the first inning for Kentucky off Miami starter Lawson Blackmore. Collett's blast, a two-run shot to straight-away center, was the 27th of his career. The senior first baseman and preseason All-American entered the season ninth among all active D-I players.

That Cats' offense tapered off against a solid showing from the Redhawks' bullpen, but they had already given the UK staff more than enough support.

Hagenow (1-0) won in his collegiate debut against a Miami club picked to finish third this season in a competitive MAC. The highly regarded freshman right-hander from Knoxville, Tenn., worked four innings, allowing no runs on one hit while striking out six and walking none.

Four UK relievers -- Wyatt Hudepohl, Cole Daniels, Holt Jones, and Mason Hazelwood -- worked the final five innings, allowing just one run. The staff recorded 13 strikeouts and walked only two batters on the day.

Back-to-back two-out doubles by Alonzo Rubalcaba and Hill in the third inning produced the Cats' only other run. Hill and fellow outfielder Austin Schultz each had two hits to lead UK.

Miami (3-1) got its lone run courtesy of a fifth-inning RBI single from Brian Zapp. The Redhawks had a chance at a much bigger frame, but Daniels induced an inning-ending double-play with the bases loaded.

Kentucky returns to action on Friday in the first of a three-game weekend series at KPP against Milwaukee.


Freshman right-hander Ryan Hagenow struck out six over four innings in his UK debut.
Freshman right-hander Ryan Hagenow struck out six over four innings in his UK debut. (Jeff Drummond/Cats Illustrated)