Fettes Launches Two Homers in Season-Opening Win
WILMINGTON, N.C. -- Catcher Greg Fettes launched a pair of home runs and righthander Dustin Beggs worked 5.1 one-run innings in his debut, leading Kentucky to an 11-7 win over Ball State in the 2015 season lidlifter, on a cold Friday afternoon at Brooks Field on the campus of UNC Wilmington.
Kentucky (1-0) pounded out 11 runs on 17 hits in the win, highlighted by the first career two-homer game from Fettes. A 6-foot-2, 230-pounder, Fettes launched a three-run homer in the first inning to give UK an early lead and then added a solo blast to centerfield in the fifth inning. A native of Madison Heights, Mich., Fettes finished 2-for-4 with four RBI and his fourth career two-walk game.
A native of Roswell, Ga., Beggs turned in a strong debut for the Wildcats, tossing 5.1 shutout innings, allowing five hits and no walks, striking out five. A 6-foot-2 product of Georgia Perimeter College, Beggs led all of junior college baseball in strikeouts in 2014 and was a 17th round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. Beggs needed just 68 pitches in his outing, throwing 47 strikeouts.
UK also got a homer from sophomore second baseman JaVon Shelby, who had a 3-for-5 game with three RBI and a walk. JaVon is the brother of UK great John and the son of Milwaukee Brewers first base coach and MLB star John T. Shelby. With John T. in attendance before venturing to spring training, it marked the first time he had witnessed his son hit a home run in JaVon's entire baseball career.
The Wildcats also got a three-hit game from 2014 All-Southeastern Conference outfielder Ka'ai Tom, who went 3-for-6 with an RBI. Senior third baseman Thomas Bernal added a 2-for-5 game with three RBI and a walk. Freshman first baseman Evan White went 3-for-5 and junior centerfielder Kyle Barrett added a 2-for-6 outing. UK also got hits from Bryce Bastien - his first career hit - and Dorian Hairston.
With a runner in scoring position and one out in the sixth inning, UK turned to freshman southpaw Zach Logue for his collegiate debut to replace Beggs. Logue worked 1.2 innings, allowing one run and striking out three. Sophomore Robert Zeigler worked the eighth inning, allowing four hits and five runs - two earned - walking one and striking out two. Sophomore lefty Logan Salow worked the ninth inning, walking two and striking out one.
Ball State (0-1) pitcher Zach Plesac - the 2014 Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Year - worked 3.2 innings, allowing six hits and eight runs, walking four and striking out one. Trevor Henderson took over in the fourth inning, working two innings. BSU also used Colin Brockhouse, Trevor Simon, Brandan Burns and Matt Haro in relief.
Kentucky will return to action on Saturday, playing Richmond at 12 p.m. ET at Brooks Field. UK's finale on Sunday at UNC Wilmington has been cancelled by the Seahawks due to potential cold temperatures.
The Wildcats got on the board in the top of the first inning, taking a 4-0 lead. Barrett led off with a grounder up the middle that went as an error, taking second on a wild pitch. Storm Wilson then drew a walk, with Bernal chopping a grounder that allowed the runners to move into scoring position. Tom then grounded out to first base to score Barrett and JaVon Shelby drew a full-count walk to put runners on the corners with two outs. Fettes then launched a three-run homer over the leftfield wall, his fourth career homer.
UK added two runs in the top of the third inning, as Tom singled with two outs and Shelby smacked a no-doubt homer over the left-centerfield fence.
In the top of the fourth inning, UK rallied to chase Plesac and stretch its lead. Marcus Carson was hit by a 3-0 pitch and Connor Heady drew a full-count walk. After a Barrett single loaded the bases, Bernal singled to leftfield to score Carson and Heady.
Fettes launched his second homer of the game to lead off the top of the fifth inning. It was the first two-homer game for a UK star since AJ Reed had two homers vs. Ole Miss in 2014 and the first multi-homer game for Fettes in his career.
Ball State got on the board in the sixth inning, as Alex Call led off with a double, scoring on Sean Kennedy's RBI single up the middle. Brandon Estep then doubled to rightfield, scoring Kennedy.
UK added a run in the top of the seventh, as Dorian Hairston singled to leftfield, with Barrett and Wilson loading the bases with one out. Bernal then drew a walk to force in a run and give UK a 10-2 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Ball State rallied to cut into the UK lead. Jarrett Rindfleish led off with a single up the middle and Kennedy followed with a one-out single. After Estep loaded the bases with a walk, Elbert Devarie singled up the middle to score a pair. After a strikeout and a two-out error, Ryan Spaulding was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in a run. Alex Call then singled to score two more runs and cut the UK lead to 10-7.
Kentucky got a run in the ninth inning, as Bastien singled up the middle and Bernal followed with a single. Shelby then smashed a two-out knock up the middle to score Bastien and give UK an 11-7 advantage.