Cliff Hagan Stadium, “The Cliff,” has been a staple in Kentucky Baseball history for the last 50 years. From 1969-2018, the Wildcats played their home games in this stadium.
But Friday night, the Cats began their last three-game series at the beloved Cliff. Friday was Senior Night for the #17 Kentucky Wildcats, and the first game of their series against the Mississippi St. Bulldogs.
Six seniors were honored for the night: Infielder Luke Becker, infielder/outfielder Luke Heyer, pitcher Alec Maley, pitcher Brad Schaenzer, catcher/1st baseman Troy Squires, and student manager Charlie Haunert.
All six guys received standing ovations and a roar of applause from the fans in the stadium. The player's mothers then threw out a pitch to their sons and the game began.
The Bulldogs came out swinging taking a quick 4-1 lead going into the bottom of the 2nd inning thanks to Hunter Stovall and Rowdey Jordan. Both Bulldogs hit two RBI singles. An infield error allowed Ben Aklinski to reach base, Trey Dawson reached base on a walk, and then Tristan Pompey with two strikes cracked a 2 RBI double into right field putting the score 4-3 Bulldogs.
The Wildcats pulled off a crucial double play to shut out the Bulldogs for their first scoreless inning in the top of the 3rd, and they continued on with a three up three down at the top of the 4th inning.
The 4th inning was the turning point for the Wildcats offense. At the bottom of the 4th, the Wildcats loaded up the bases on a controversial call at 1st base. Next up to bat, Trey Dawson, ripped one into left field getting on base and scoring one run.
Coming up to bat was Tristan Pompey with a hot hand who got himself another 2 RBI double putting the Wildcats up 6-4. Kole Cottam came to the plate hitting a sacrifice fly-out to left field scoring another run putting them at a total of 4 runs for the inning. The 4th ended with the Wildcats up 7-4 on the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State hit a home run in the 5th inning and scored another run at the top of the 7th closing the gap to 7-6 Kentucky.
A pitching change from Sean Hjelle to Chris Machamer occurred at the top of the 8th for the Wildcats. Machamer held the Bulldogs scoreless allowing Kentucky to build on their lead. The Cats did not disappoint. Luke Becker lined a single through the infield bringing in two runs and Kentucky extended its lead out to 9-6 heading into the 9th inning.
The top of the 9th and the Bulldogs were faced with two quick outs and a man on first. The Bulldogs were in a score or lose situation, but Machamer wasn't going to let a comeback happen while he was on the mound. The Bulldogs final batter was thrown out at 1st on a low grounder to the shortstop.
Final score: Kentucky 9, Mississippi State 6
Even with the Bulldogs ending the game with a loss they did have some bright spots. #13 Hunter Stovall went 4/5 with two singles, a home run, and a triple. #40 Elijah MacNamee went 2/4 with two singles. Rowdey Jordan drove in two RBI and had two walks. As a team overall they had zero errors.
The Wildcats had a slow start, but once they heated up they didn’t cool down again. #6 Tristan Pompey went 2/2, drew three walks, and brought in four RBIs with two doubles. #52 went 3⁄4 with three singles. #2 went 2⁄3 with one RBI, two singles, and a walk. #10 went 2/4, with two RBIs and two singles. It was a great team effort tonight all around.
The Seniors got to go home with a win on their night & the fans were able to enjoy the last Friday Night Fireworks at The Cliff.