LEXINGTON, Ky. — 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.
"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.