Shelby’s Solo Shot Highlights UK’s Victory Over Dayton


LEXINGTON, Ky. – Junior JaVon Shelby righted his recent hitting woes with a solo home run and senior right-hander Zach Strecker picked up his third win of the season as the No. 22 Kentucky baseball team earned a 5-3 win over the Dayton Flyers in a marathon, eight-inning game Tuesday evening at Cliff Hagan Stadium. 

Shelby opened the bottom of the second in style, crushing the ball to left-center field for his first home run since March 20, when he hit two bombs against the Bulldogs. The Lexington, Ky., native had struggled at the plate before hitting his seventh homer of the season.

Strecker earned the win after two innings pitched with a strikeout, two hits and an unearned run. Strecker’s three wins this season match his total throughout the first three years of his career. 

True freshman Sean Hjelle earned his seventh save of the season after an 11-pitch performance and securing the final out of the eighth inning. Hjelle’s seventh save ties for 14th place in career saves in Kentucky baseball history.

The game went seven and a half innings over the course of almost five hours, due in large part to two rain delays lasting over a combined two hours. Inclement weather eventually ended the game at 10:30 p.m.

With the win, Kentucky is 25-15 with a 10-8 mark in the Southeastern Conference. The win marks Henderson’s 251st after the eighth-year skipper hit the 250-win milestone on Saturday with a 5-4 victory over Arkansas. Dayton moves to 14-28 with the loss, and a 5-10 record in Atlantic 10 play. 

Kentucky retired the side in order in the first inning before finding the scoreboard early. Sophomore Evan White drilled a shot down the third base line for a stand-up double. Classmate Luke Becker hit a deep fly ball, allowing White to advance to third. Junior Gunnar McNeill brought White home, grounding out to first to give Kentucky a one-run lead. 

The Wildcats worked their way out of a tough situation in the top of the second. After Dayton put runners on the corners, the trio of shortstop Connor Heady, Becker and McNeill turned the double play to retire the side. 

Following Shelby’s home run, designated hitter Zach Arnold and catcher Kole Cottam strung together back-to-back hits to put two runners on the bases. Heady was walked to load the bases before White was issued a free pass to add another UK run. A deep sacrifice fly to left field from Becker gave Cottam the time to reach home, giving Kentucky a 4-0 lead headed into the third. 

Dayton found the scoreboard at the top of the fourth, as Glenn Jones hit a grounder to help Robbie Doring cross home plate. 

Hariston singled for the second time in the fifth inning with a shot up the middle, but was caught stealing second base to close out the frame. 

Dayton scored single runs in the sixth and seventh innings to close the gap to one run. Kentucky Junior Logan Salow came up big in relief, striking out four of his seven total batters faced and pitching out of two jams.

The Wildcats added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, with McNeill setting up the play with a single. UK swapped McNeill for pinch runner Storm Wilson, a move that would prove wise. Pinch hitter Zach Reks entered the game drilling a double into the gap, as Wilson covered three bases to give UK the 5-3 advantage. 

UK will continue the midweek slate on Wednesday, April 27, at 6:30 p.m., where it hosts the University of Miami (Ohio). The game will stream live on the SEC Network+ with Dick Gabriel on the call. Fans can also hear the game live on the UK Sports Radio Network, available in Central Kentucky on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.

Single-game tickets for all games are available through Ticketmaster.com or by calling the UK Ticket Office at (800) 928-2287. General admission adult tickets are $5, while general admission youth (18 and under) and senior (65 and older) are $2. Children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge in general admission areas, based on availability. 

For the latest on the Kentucky athletics, follow @UKBaseball on Twitter and Facebook, as well as on the web at UKathletics.com.