John Rhodes collects game-winning hit with two outs in the eighth, Daniel Harper slams the door on mound to spur Wildcats in series opener
LEXINGTON, Ky. – May 7, 2021
Johnny Barrels came up clutch.
The Kentucky baseball team delivered a thrilling 7-5 victory over No. 8 Florida on Thursday night, getting a two-out, two-run single from John Rhodes in the bottom of the eighth to score a resume-building win in the series opener at Kentucky Proud Park. The sophomore lined a pitch into centerfield off Florida right-hander Jack Leftwich to score Chase Estep and Austin Schultz, the final punch in a game filled with drama over the final few innings.
The Cats (27-15, 11-11 SEC) picked up their third win over a top 10 opponent this season and second in six days, doing so in the same cardiac fashion that has become a staple of their season. After building a 5-0 lead through five innings the Cats saw Florida battle back and tie the game in the seventh with its own two-out rally, setting the stage for a wild ending.
The Gators (31-14, 13-9) put the first two men on in the eighth inning, bringing UK senior righty Daniel Harper into the game. Harper struck out a batter before allowing a single that loaded the bases with one out. The Fairway, Kansas native recorded another strikeout for the second out and then poured a perfect fastball at the knees in a full count to freeze Josh Rivera and end the inning without allowing a run.
Bouyed by the momentum Harper gave them the Cats proceeded to stage the winning rally in their half of the inning. Cam Hill, who had a two-run single earlier, opened the inning with a bunt single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Estep flared a single to left and Hill was thrown out at home on a hard play at the plate that brought both dugouts onto the field. After Schultz beat out and infield hit and stole second, Rhodes hit the game-winner.
Bottom 4th – Oraj Anu singled. Ryan Ritter beat out an infield single. Zeke Lewis singled to load the bases. Cam Hill singled to RF, Anu and Ritter scored. Lewis scored on a passed ball, Hill to second. Hill to third on a groundout. T.J. Collett struck out swinging but reached first on a wild pitch, Hill scored. UK 4, Florida 0.
Bottom 5th – Coltyn Kessler singled to CF, advanced to second on a groundout and scored on Ritter’s two-out single to CF. UK 5, Florida 0.
Top 6th – Rivera doubled to open the inning, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on Young’s SAC fly to RF. UK 5, Florida 1.
Top 7th – Fabian doubled to start the inning. Armstrong singled to CF. McMullen singled to CF, Fabian scored. Rivera walked. Halter walked, scoring Armstrong. Young singled, scoring McMullen and Rivera. UK 5, Florida 5.
Bottom 8th – Hill laid down a bunt single and moved to second on a wild pitch. Chase Estep singled to LF, Hill out at home, Estep moving up to second. Austin Schultz reached on an infield single and stole second. John Rhodes singled to CF, scoring Estep and Schultz. UK 7, Florida 5.
- UK is 27-15 overall, 11-11 in SEC play.
- The Cats are 21-8 at Kentucky Proud Park this season.
- The Cats are 4-8 vs. ranked teams, 3-6 vs. the Top 10.
- The Cats are 61-of-65 on stolen base attempts this season after stealing four in as many attempts in the game.
- Junior IF/OF Austin Schultz went 2-for-4 with a run, a hit by pitch and two steals.
- Schultz has reached base safely in 92 of 100 career games with a plate appearance.
- Schultz is 20-for-22 on stolen bases this season.
- It was Schultz’s 21st multi-hit game of the season and 36th career.
- Senior C Coltyn Kessler went 1-for-4 with a run.
- Kessler has reached safely in 28 of his past 30 games.
- Senior IF Zeke Lewis went 3-for-4 with a run and two steals.
- In three games since returning from injury, Lewis is 6-for-11 at the plate.
- Lewis has three multi-hit games on the season, two in past three games.
- Lewis now is 8-of-9 on stolen bases this season.
- Junior OF Cam Hill went 2-for-4 with a run and two RBI.
- Hill now has four multi-hit and three multi-RBI games this season.
- Sophomore OF John Rhodes went 2-for-5 with the game-winning two-run single.
- Rhodes now has 10 multi-hit games this season and 19 for his career.
- Rhodes has nine multi-RBI games this season and 16 in his career.
- Senior RHP Daniel Harper earned the win in relief.
- Harper went 2.0 IP, allowing one hit and striking out five of the seven batters he faced.
- Harper entered with two runners on and no outs in the eighth inning of a tie game and held the score even.
Kentucky will try to win the series on Friday night at Kentucky Proud Park. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on the SEC Network Plus. The radio call will be on the UK Sports Network.