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Kentucky baseball roars back in the bottom of the ninth for thrilling walk-off win

‘It feels like home’: Reactions to opening of Kentucky Proud Park

Reactions from coaches and players at the opening of Kentucky Proud Park, UK Baseball's new home stadium.
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Reactions from coaches and players at the opening of Kentucky Proud Park, UK Baseball's new home stadium.

Its new home is just two games old and already the University of Kentucky baseball team has delivered a major milestone.

Trailing 4-1 and down to their last three outs, the Wildcats put together a four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth to top off a thrilling comeback with the first walk-off win in the history of Kentucky Proud Park on Wednesday, knocking off Northern Kentucky 5-4.

Junior-college transfer Dalton Reed sealed the victory with the biggest hit of his young UK career, lacing a bases-loaded, one-out single up the middle.

Reed homered on the first pitch he saw in Kentucky’s season-opening win over Austin Peay, but the junior from Oklahoma said this hit was a bit more meaningful.

“It’s pretty great,” he said after the game according to a UK press release. “Things like (the walk-off) make it even more special.”

On a spring-like afternoon in front of 3,096 fans, Kentucky surrendered a 1-0 lead when the Norse scored four runs in the top of the seventh, capped by a two-run double from Billy Marion.

Marshall Gei got UK’s rally going with a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth, and pinch runner Elliott Curtis scored on Breydon Daniel’s one-out single to cut the deficit to 4-2.

Ryan Shinn drew a walk to load the bases with one out then T.J. Collett tied the game with a single through the left side, finding the hole created by NKU’s infield shift.

After Jeron Shelby was intentionally walked to load the bases and set up a potential double play, Reed came through with the game-winner.

Sophomore leftie Mason Hazelwood was brilliant in his second career start for the Wildcats. The 6-foot-5 Mercer County graduate allowed just one hit, no runs and and no walks while striking out 11 over six innings.

Kentucky (5-3) had 11 hits on the day, including five in the bottom of the ninth inning. Gei went 3-for-4, while Shelby and Reed had two hits apiece. Northern Kentucky (0-7) is still looking for its first win of the season.

KENTUCKY 5, NORTHERN KY. 4

NKU

000

000

400

4

5

0

Kentucky

100

000

004

5

11

1

Mercer, Arganbright (5), Richardson (6), Martin (7), Ross (9) and Wakeham, Hohman. Hazelwood, Burchett (7), Ayers (7), Daniels (7), Degen (8) and Gei. W—Degen (1-0). L—Ross (0-2). 2BNKU: Bacon (3), Marion 2 (2). UK: Shelby (3).

Records—Northern Ky. (0-7), Kentucky (5-3).

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Josh Sullivan has worked at the Herald-Leader for more than 10 years in multiple capacities, including as a news assistant, page designer, copy editor and sports reporter. He is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Lexington native.
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