The sophomore strikes out a career-high 10, setting the tone in first home league opener since 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. – March 19, 2021
Having waited nine years to open Southeastern Conference play at home the Kentucky baseball team wasted no time taking advantage, jumping out to an early lead and cruising to a 10-2 victory over Missouri at Kentucky Proud Park on Friday night. It was the first time the Wildcats began league play on their own diamond since 2012.
Sophomore right-hander Cole Stupp was dominant in his first taste of SEC competition, quickly taking care of business in the early innings while his offense piled up a big lead. Staked with that seven-run cushion the Georgia native pounded the strike zone on his way to a career-high 10 strikeouts in seven innings, allowing five hits, walking two and yielding just one unearned run. He moved to 3-0 on the season and lowered his earned run average to 1.14 while setting a tone for his team.
Offensively, the Cats (12-3, 1-0) pounced on Missouri starter Spencer Miles immediately, scoring three runs in the first inning and four more in the second. Five different Wildcats registered multiple hits and four drove in a pair of runs, exemplifying the balanced attack the team has shown early in the 2021 season. The lineup grinded out nine walks and forced Mizzou (7-11, 0-1) pitchers to throw nearly 200 pitches on the night.
Senior catcher Coltyn Kessler went 3-for-3 with a pair of walks, reaching base all five times he came to the plate, while senior first baseman T.J. Collett remained hot in going 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and a 13-pitch first-inning at-bat that helped fuel the initial rally.
Bottom 1st – Austin Schultz singled to RF. Oraj Anu doubled to RCF, Schultz scored. John Rhodes walked. T.J. Collett flied out to CF, Anu to third. Trae Harmon singled to RC, Anu scored, Rhodes to third. Rhodes scored on Estep’s SAC fly. UK 3, Missouri 0.
Bottom 2nd – Coltyn Kessler reached on a single. Schultz singled to RF, Kessler to third. Schultz stole second. Anu singled through the right side, scoring Kessler and Schultz. Rhodes reached on a fielder’s choice, Anu to second. Collett doubled to RCF, scoring Anu and Rhodes. UK 7, Missouri 0.
Top 8th – Coletta reached on an error, Vierling singled and Belk walked to load the bases. McDaniel grounded out to first, scoring one. UK 7, Missouri 1.
Bottom 8th – Cam Hill, Rhodes and Collett walked. Harmon walked, Hill scored. Chase Estep walked, Rhodes scored. Reuben Church singled to LF, Collett scored. UK 10, Missouri 1.
Top 9th – Keefer and Lancaster walked. Morris singled to CF, scoring Keefer, Lancaster to third. UK 10, Missouri 2.
- UK is 39-21 at Kentucky Proud Park under head coach Nick Mingione.
- The Cats are 2-2 in SEC openers under Mingione.
- This is the first time UK has opened SEC play at home since 2012.
- The UK pitching staff has 29 consecutive games with seven or more strikeouts, including 24 with 10 or more.
- The UK pitching staff has struck out 177 batters and walked just 37 this season.
- The staff entered the game fourth the nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio.
- Junior IF/OF Austin Schultz went 2-for-5 with two runs and a stolen base.
- Schultz has reached base safely in 70 of 75 career games.
- He currently has a career-long 11-game hit streak.
- He is 9-for-9 on stolen base attempts this season.
- Senior 1B T.J. Collett went 2-for-4 with a run, two RBI, a double and a walk.
- Collett has a team-best 15-game reached base safely streak.
- Senior C Coltyn Kessler reached base safely in all five of his plate appearances.
- Kessler went 3-for-3 with two walks and a run.
- The three hits tied his career-high, set at Florida on Apr. 28, 2019.
- The last Wildcat to have four hits was Matthew Golda vs. Appalachian State on 2/23/20.
- Senior OF Oraj Anu went 2-for-3 with two runs, two RBI, a walk and a double.
- It was Anu’s sixth multi-hit and fourth multi-RBI game of the season.
- Sophomore RHP Cole Stupp pitched into the 8th inning to earn the win and move to 3-0 on the season.
- Stupp’s final line: 7.0 IP, five hits, one unearned run, two walks, 10 strikeouts.
- The innings and strikeouts were both career bests.
The Cats will look to claim the opening SEC series on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. ET. The game will be aired on SECN+. The radio call will be on the UK Sports Network.