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
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). 2B—NKU: Bacon (3), Marion 2 (2). UK: Shelby (3).
Records—Northern Ky. (0-7), Kentucky (5-3).
Canisius at Kentucky
Friday: 4 p.m.
Saturday: 1 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m.