Kentucky loses the third and final game of the series against UNC-Wilmington to finish the weekend of matchups against the Seahawks 0-3 and fall to 5-6 on the season.
Freshman pitcher Zack Lee made his first career start today, but his day did not last further than 1.1 innings, as UNC-Wilmington rattled off five runs in the second inning.
“We just gotta play better,” UK Head Coach Nick Mingione said of that inning. “It’s happened to many times where we’ve gotten down and had to try to claw back.”
The Cats found stability under sophomore RHP Alex Degen between the third and fifth inning, as Degen only gave up one hit and allowed zero runs. He lasted four innings and 60 pitches, the most of the pitchers for UK today, as he was taken out in the sixth inning after his lone given up run of the day.
“I just went in with the open mindset of no matter what inning I go into, I go into it with a starter mindset,” Degen said.
During the stretch that Alex Degen was pitching, Kentucky found a spark offensively in the third inning behind back-to-back homers from sophomore right-fielder Austin Shultz and senior first-baseman T.J. Collett.
Outside of that inning, though, Kentucky had no real rhythm offensively. While they were pretty much even with UNCW in hits (12-11), the margin in efficiency when runners were on base maybe made the biggest difference in the game.
With runners on base, UNCW hit 7-17 (41.2%) while UK was 2-20 (10.0%). When runners got to third base with less than two outs, UNCW hit 5-5 while the Cats were just 1-2, as often runners were stranded at first or second base for Kentucky.
Only three players for UK had two or more hits — junior designated hitter Oraj Anu, sophomore rightfielder Austin Shultz and leftfielder John Rhodes combined to go 7-14. The rest of the team went 4-23 as UK could not find much rhythm as a whole.
Senior center-fielder Jaren Shelby, who returned after being out for a week for injury, provided some momentum in when he got on base, as he got three steals, but UNCW was able to keep UK’s bat from tying the game back up or taking the lead.
For UK Head Coach Nick Mingione, though, the focus was on improving on the defensive end.
“We gotta get better defensively,” Mingione said. “Overall, we need to play better, especially defensively.”
The Cats next go up against Cincinnati at home on Tuesday at 4 p.m. in hopes of getting back to .500 for the season.