The Wildcats battle back twice to win on Sunday, completing second weekend sweep of season
LEXINGTON, Ky. – March 14, 2021
T.J. Collett delivered the thunder and Sean Harney slammed the door, pushing the Kentucky baseball team to a 4-2 victory on Sunday that secured a three-game weekend sweep of Georgia State. The win improved the Wildcats to 11-2 overall and completed their second series sweep of the season while outscoring the Panthers 26-4.
Collett sent shockwaves through Kentucky Proud Park for the third straight game, launching a 406-foot moonshot over the right field bullpen and out of the stadium’s footprint in the first inning, erasing the Cats’ first deficit of the series. He later slapped a game-winning RBI double inside the third base line in the seventh inning, foiling the defensive shift deployed by the Panthers. It was the second game-winning hit and third go-ahead knock for Collett in the series.
The senior from Terre Haute, Indiana rocked the Panthers (4-13) throughout the series, homering in three straight games for the third time in his career while driving in eight runs. He now has 30 career round-trippers, placing him in the top 10 of active Division I players.
Although Sunday wasn’t the crispest game the Cats have played it was certainly full of critical moments that were aced by a team that is quickly gaining confidence. Sophomore infielder Chase Estep made two eye-popping defensive plays at third base, junior catcher Alonzo Rubalcaba was a brick wall behind home plate and sophomore shortstop Ryan Ritter thwarted a potential threat in the ninth with a slick pickup of a groundball with spin on it to start a double play.
On the mound, sophomore right-hander Zack Lee was strong through four innings before giving way to the bullpen. Senior righty Holt Jones earned the win with 1.1 perfect innings, extricating the Cats from a jam in the sixth by stranding the go-ahead run at third, and then handing the ball to Harney to close out the final two innings and earn his fifth save of the season.
Top 1st – Pearson singled to open the game. Mize doubled just inside the 3B bag, scoring Pearson. Georgia State 1, UK 0.
Bottom 1st – Oran Anu reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on T.J. Collett’s home run to RF. UK 2, Georgia State 1.
Top 6th – J. Smith homered just inside the LF pole. UK 2, Georgia State 2.
Bottom 7th – Anu singled to RF and scored from first on Collett’s double down the LF line. UK 3, Georgia State 2.
Bottom 8th – Alonzo Rubalcaba walked, oved to second on Ryan Ritter’s SAC bunt and scored on Austin Schultz’s two-out single up the middle. UK 4, Georgia State 2.
- UK is 85-28 vs. non-conference opponents under head coach Nick Mingione.
- The Cats are 74-10 vs. non-Power Five conference opponents.
- The Cats are 66-11 in non-conference home games.
- The UK pitching staff has 27 consecutive games with seven or more strikeouts, including 22 with 10 or more.
- The Cats struck out 38 batters and walked just five in the three-game series.
- The UK pitching staff has struck out 149 batters and walked just 26 this season.
- The staff entered the weekend third the nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio.
- Senior 1B T.J. Collett went 2-for-4 with a run, three RBI, a double and a home run.
- It was Collett’s 30th career homer and fourth this season.
- Collett homered in a third straight game, delivering shots in every game of the series.
- He is the first Wildcat to do that since Trae Harmon vs. Appalachian State on Feb. 21-23, 2020.
- Collett has homered in three straight games three times in his career, including four straight in 2018.
- Collett has a team-best 13-game reached base safely streak.
- For the series, Collett was 5-for-12 with four runs, a double, three home runs and eight RBI.
- He provided the go-ahead hit in two of the three games.
- Junior IF/OF Austin Schultz went 2-for-4 with a walk, an RBI and a stolen base.
- Schultz has reached base safely in 68 of 73 career games.
- He currently has a career-long nine-game hit streak.
- He is 8-for-8 on stolen base attempts this season.
- Senior RHP Sean Harney pitched 2.0 innings to pick up his fifth save of the season.
- Senior RHP Holt Jones earned his first win in a Kentucky uniform with 1.1 perfect innings of work. He got the Cats out of a jam in the sixth inning of a tie game before handing the ball to Harney in the eighth.
The Cats return to Kentucky Proud Park on Tuesday for the final non-conference game before SEC play opens, hosting Murray State. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. ET. The game will be aired on SECN+. The radio call will be on the UK Sports Network.