Fans and commentators across the state were mystified and confused when Nick Mingione pulled junior starter Zach Haake after two innings last night against Florida. Haake had pitched two perfect innings with three strikeouts before exiting before the third inning. After Haake was replaced, the bullpen surrendered six runs in the third inning and 11 overall in the 11-2 loss to UF.
The move to pull Haake, a guy that has struggled as of late, after his best two innings of the season was highly questionable.
Following the game, Nick Mingione stood up for his decision to go to the bullpen early in the series opener.
“We’ve obviously really struggled in that spot with Thompson out. So we basically decided that ‘hey look, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to tell our guys that we’re going to run a relay race and we’re going to pass off the baton’. I think Zach has shown that he’s been really good in short stints. Besides the one outing, his best stuff has come at the very beginning. We basically wanted to give him a finish line so he would have an idea of where that would be. Obviously, he threw great. I think he got better tonight. There’s no question the guy got better tonight.”
The plan was to use the committee style of finishing this game. UK wanted to use a variety of pitchers out of the bullpen to keep Florida guessing at the plate. The only problem with this style was that Haake was pitching lights out against the top team in the nation. The fact that Haake was perfect through two innings did not change Mingione’s mind on whether or not to keep him on the mound entering the third inning.
“Once I tell a player something ahead of time, I don’t deviate. There’s times where you have to adjust the plan like we didn’t throw everybody we decided we were going to throw before the game.”
It was an interesting choice to pull a guy that was dealing so early. For those that choose to look at the glass half full, Haake was dynamite. The junior showed UK fans what he can be in those two innings. He looked like the top-tier JUCO talent with a good fastball/slider combo that we had heard so much about this fall. But in a much more realistic view, the choice to not let Haake make it one time through the order was questionable. Haake does struggle in the third inning and beyond, but he looked like a different pitcher in his two innings. And for the bullpen, it was an interesting night to use so many arms, especially since UK’s three best relievers had pitched so much over the last three games.
The whole scenario was mind-boggling. But with baseball, teams have a chance to cover their sins with a win the next day. The BatCats will take on Florida tonight at the Cliff at 7:30. If you can’t make it out, watch on SEC Network.
A big third inning by Florida’s offense doomed Kentucky in the series opener. The top-ranked Gators used a six-run third inning against #6 UK’s bullpen to boost them to a 11-2 win on Thursday night.
The big inning came after Nick Mingione pulled starter Zach Haake after two perfect innings. Haake had struck out three without allowing a baserunner, but the coaching staff decided to go to the bullpen to save Haake’s arm for the remainder of the weekend.
The outcome of the decision would not be positive for the BatCats. Mason Hazelwood came on in relief and was back in the dugout shortly after. Florida hung a quick three runs on Hazelwood before UK went back to the bullpen for Alec Maley. Maley would struggle as well, allowing three runs before the inning mercifully ended with the Cats trailing 6-0.
That long inning would be the deciding factor. The BatCats would add two runs in the bottom of the fourth on a pair of RBIs by Luke Becker and Ben Aklinski, but Florida would continue to tack on late. The Gators added one run in the eighth and two runs in the ninth as they completed a dominating performance against UK’s bullpen.
UK’s pitching performance was the exact opposite of Florida’s on Friday. Brady Singer showed why he is one the top-ranked college pitchers in this year draft tonight. Singer struck out ten in seven innings of work tonight. The BatCats managed only four hits in the loss.
The questionable decision to lift Haake came back to bite the Cats as their bullpen surrendered eleven runs in seven innings. Florida got six runs on two hits in the big inning and took the series opener 11-2 over the BatCats.
By Trey Huntsman on ©April 19th, 2018 @ 6:00pm
The moment we’ve all been waiting for is here. The number one Florida Gators will take on the number six Kentucky Wildcats tonight at the Cliff. All eyes across the college baseball world will be on this series. So before you head to the Cliff this weekend, here is what you need to know about the series.
The Gators are number one in the country. Florida has been college baseball’s one truly great team in 2018. Behind a dominant pitching staff, Florida is 32-7 this season. They are also atop the SEC Standings with a 12-3 record in conference play.
Florida has not lost an SEC series this year. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. The Gators are a perfect 5-0 in weekend series to start the year. Those series wins include Vanderbilt, Arkansas, and Missouri. That’s a tough omen for the BatCats.
Florida took two of three last season against Kentucky. The BatCats won game one, but Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar dominated over the next two games as the Gators won the series. The one shining moment from the weekend was Tristan Pompey’s grand slam in game one.
Tristan Pompey ? Grand Slam
Kentucky ? 12 -4 Win vs. Florida
Wildcats ? Tied for 1st in SEC
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) May 19, 2017
Zack Thompson will not pitch this weekend for Kentucky. Thompson will miss his sixth consecutive weekend with a flexor strain in his throwing elbow. The sophomore stud has made steps toward pitching soon, but he will miss this weekend’s series against Florida. Look for Thompson to return in the next week or two. For more, click here.
Sean Hjelle will start tomorrow night. Normally the game one starter in weekend series, Hjelle will pitch on his normal rest tomorrow night. According to UK Athletics, Zach Haake will get the start tonight against Brady Singer. Haake pitched less than three innings last Saturday so he should be ready to roll tonight.
Check out the weekend scouting report on Florida’s top talent. UF packs quite a punch on offense and on the mound, so make sure to check out KSR’s scouting report on the four best players for the Gators.
The game will be SEC Network’s Thursday night primetime game at 7 ET. It will be a top ten matchup that most of the country will have their eyes on tonight. Tomorrow night’s game will also be on the SEC Network at 7:30 before the series rounds out on Saturday at 1 ET on SECN+. Make sure to tune in or come out to the Cliff.
The BatCats will have their hands full this weekend when the number one team in the country comes to town. The Florida Gators are tops in the conference and tops in the nation with a 32-6 overall record and a 12-3 record in conference. Kevin Sullivan leads a team that is coming off the school’s first national championship last June. The Gators return a good portion of contributors from last season. UF might have actually improved since last season with a good crop of experienced players off the championship team. Let’s take a closer look at some of the players that have had big seasons for the Gators through the first half of conference play.
I am not joking with the stats you are about to read. India is hitting .509 in SEC play with six home runs and 14 RBIs. His on-base percentage is .629 and he is slugging 1.000. It goes without saying that India is leading the SEC in well, everything. It has been a meteoric rise for a guy that hit .274 as a sophomore in 2017. India’s bat speed has improved since last season as well as his ability to launch the ball.
— Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) February 17, 2018
Don’t let me be the only one to tell you how good India is. Here is SEC Network’s Chris Burke breaking down India’s swing.
4) Impact….nose down, spine angled over the zone, back knee depth! pic.twitter.com/lbm7CjoVIe
— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke02) March 27, 2018
Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar
No team in the country has a better one-two punch on the mound than Florida. Singer and Kowar are both projected as top ten picks come June. The duo has dominated to this point in the SEC. Singer has been the projected top pick in June’s Draft for the last year. The junior was a weekend starter last year and pitched well in the College World Series. Singer has held SEC opponents to a .143 average at the plate thanks to a high-90s fastball and a devastating slider. Florida will have Singer on the mound on Thursday and Kowar on Friday. Kowar has been phenomenal in his last four SEC starts. The junior has gone six or more innings and allowed two or fewer runs in his last four times out. The two aces combined to allowed five runs in 13.1 innings in two wins against UK last season.
He’s the Trevor Hoffman of college baseball. When Byrne jogs out to the mound in the late innings, the game is essentially over. Byrne has a 0.84 ERA and ten saves this season as Florida’s closer. Byrne has been a weapon for the Gators that no other team in the country has at their disposal. If Byrne comes in for the final three outs of a game, watch out because he will probably slam the door.
By Trey Huntsman on ©April 18th, 2018 @ 2:00pm
The BatCats will be without their number two starter for the sixth straight weekend. Nick Mingione said on his radio show that sophomore Zack Thompson will be out with a flexor strain in his throwing arm against #1 Florida. The projected number two overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft has not pitched since March 10th against Texas Tech.
Mingione said that Thompson’s status is still being decided on a week-to-week basis. According to Mingione’s radio show on Monday, Thompson is progressing, but they will keep him out this week.
The sooner Thompson comes back, the better. Since Thompson went out, UK is 0-5 in the second game of weekend series with a run differential of -31. Junior Zach Haake has stepped in for Thompson and seen his fair share of struggles on Saturdays. Thompson exited early against Texas Tech after his velocity had dipped and he allowed three early runs. The game Thompson exited helped to raise his ERA above six, but that stat does not tell the whole story. The injury came after Thompson had started looking like himself the previous week against Sam Houston State when he pitched six shutout innings in the Shriners Classic.
It goes without saying that UK needs Thompson back. Thompson hit his stride at this point last season before giving the Cats good starts in the Lexington Regional and in midweek games. There is still a good chance that we see Thompson on the mound before the end of the year, but let’s hope its sooner rather than later.
By Drew Franklin on ©April 17th, 2018 @ 9:30pm
Louisville avenged its April 3 loss at Kentucky with a win in the rematch in Louisville on Tuesday.
Things got off to a nice start for the Cats when Trey Dawson’s second home run of the season gave his team a 1-0 lead in the top of the third. But the Cards would score eight unanswered before UK crossed home plate again as UofL went on to win, 8-2.
With Louisville’s win, the two teams split the regular season series for a second straight year.
By Trey Huntsman on ©April 17th, 2018 @ 2:00pm
The BatCats travel to Louisville this evening to take on the Cardinals in game two of the regular series season. #6 Kentucky took game one earlier this month and can sweep the season series with a win tonight. First pitch is at 6 ET, so here are some things to watch for in tonight’s Battle of the Bluegrass.
Kentucky can sweep the season series for the first time since 2014.
The last four years have seen Louisville dominate the rivalry. Since the Cats swept the season series in 2014, Louisville has won eight of the last ten matchups, including two straight in last year’s Super Regional. The BatCats can flip the script with a win tonight night. Last year’s team showed improvement against the national superpower Louisville by taking one in the season series. If the BatCats can win at Jim Patterson Stadium tonight, it would prove that they are truly the best team in the state.
Will This Game Be Less Sloppy?
Good grief I hope so. The Cats took game one earlier this month by a score of 8-5, but it was ugly. UK committed five errors in a sloppy win over the Cards. Louisville will be ready to roll at home tonight and the Cats need to be more focused than they were in the game one. The BatCats are much better than this year’s Louisville team and a clean game by UK should get them the win.
Can Daniel Harper Get The Job Done?
UK will need a big performance by the freshman projected starter on Tuesday. In game one, Harper showed the ability to handle the Cardinals’ lineup. The key on Tuesday for Harper will be to command his pitches. The freshman does not need to let the opposing crowd get into his head.
Has Louisville Improved?
Baseball America still has Louisville as a two seed, but I don’t see it. The Cardinals won their first ACC series in over a month this past weekend over lowly Virginia Tech. A lot of their struggles this season stem from losing many of their contributors from last year’s team, including player of the year Brendan McKay. The Cards are very young and still finding their identity after last year’s success. They showed in game one against UK that they had a long way to go. We will find out tonight if they have made a step forward in the last month.
Where Can You Watch?
Tonight’s game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra, so it should be available on Watch ESPN. If that does not work, you can tune in on 630 WLAP.
After making a trip to Athens, Georgia, Trey Huntsman shares a story about one wild fan in the stands, prompting Coach Keith Madison to tell a tale from an SEC Tournament that was hosted in Athens. They break down the series win at Georgia, preview the mid-week match-up with Louisville, and…
— Ramsey and Machamer are giving Nick Mingione more confidence in his bullpen.
— A tip of the cap to Justin Lewis.
— How to prepare for Louisville when No. 1 Florida comes to Lexington this weekend.
— That time Coach Madison got tossed in an 11-2 game.
— Memory of a bitter game at Georgia and how it led to an encounter with Tubby Smith when he was coach at Georgia
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to Kentucky Sports Radio on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
After big performances vs. Western Carolina and No. 18 Georgia, Kentucky sophomore closer Chris Machamer was named SEC Pitcher of the Week this afternoon.
Machamer did not allow a run in 5.1 innings in wins over the Catamounts and the Bulldogs, yielding just three hits, striking out seven and issuing an intentional walk. In Kentucky’s last 10 games, the right hander is 1-0 with six saves in seven appearances and riding a 13.1 scoreless inning streak, with three hits allowed and 14 strikeouts.
Tomorrow, the Bat Cats will travel to Louisville for a midweek rivalry showdown before hosting No. 1 Florida this weekend. Prepare for that exciting slate by watching this clip of Machamer’s big save on Friday night:
By Trey Huntsman on ©April 14th, 2018 @ 11:06pm
It was a wild day of baseball in Athens. The BatCats (25-11, 7-8) split today’s doubleheader and won the series over #18 Georgia. Kentucky dropped the first game of the day 9-7 but bounced back to win a thrilling 1-0 game on Saturday night. We will have more from this wild day, but for now, enjoy the recaps of both games.
Georgia 9 Kentucky 7
One inning killed the Cats in game one. Georgia’s seven-run third inning proved to be too big of a hole to climb out of for Kentucky as they dropped game one by a score of 9-7. The BatCats outscored UGA 6-1 in the final six innings, but the huge third inning proved to be their downfall.
In the third inning, Georgia collected seven runs on eight hits and one error. The Bulldogs saw eight different hitters reach base before UK ever got one out.
Zach Haake started in game two of the series in place of Zack Thompson for the fourth straight week. Haake looked good in the first two innings, but he would not make it through the third. Georgia chased Haake when Keegan McGovern hit a three home run to give the Dogs a 4-1 lead in the third. The bleeding would not stop as UGA hung four more runs on UK reliever Brad Schaenzer to take an 8-1 lead after three innings.
If Friday night proved anything, it’s that you can never count out the UK offense. The BatCats slowly scratched away at the lead through the middle innings but struggled to get the big hit with men on. UK left a combined five men on in the fourth and fifth innings but did manage to score a pair of runs to get within striking distance.
Trailing 9-3 late, the Cats got a late rally going thanks to their powerful bats. Kole Cottam hit a two-run home run and T.J Collett followed with a solo home run as UK trimmed the lead to three after seven innings.
UK was able to overcome the three-run deficit last night, but the seven-run lead was just too much on Saturday. The Cats would add another run in the eighth but Georgia was able to wiggle out of the inning with the lead intact. Georgia would close out game one by a score 0f 9-7 in Athens.
Kentucky 1 Georgia 0
This series was like a three-act play. Each game brought a different level of suspense to Foley Field in Athens. In game three, we saw a brilliant pitcher’s duel that ended with Kentucky winning 1-0 over Georgia thanks to a go-ahead infield single by Kole Cottam in the eighth inning.
Before the single by Cottam, neither team had any success with runners on base. Entering the eighth inning, the teams had combined to hit 5/28 with runners on base. But the story of this game is not what the two teams couldn’t do, it was what their pitchers could do. UK’s Justin Lewis and UGA’s C.J Smith were both electric in tonight’s game.
The two starting pitchers carried their teams through the first six innings. Neither starting pitcher allowed a run in game two of the doubleheader. Lewis was able to wiggle out of jam after jam in six innings of work. The junior righty stranded seven runners, including two in the third inning as struck out two batters to end the frame.
In front of dozens of friends and family, the Georgia-native Lewis had his best stuff tonight for the Cats. Unfortunately for UK, so did Smith. The freshman pitcher went a career-high six innings in a no-decision. Smith struck out four and allowed four hits in his first career start.
Lewis and Smith would both exit after six innings. For Lewis, his exit came with some extra drama. With two outs in the inning, L.J Talley shot a single with Cam Shepherd on first. Ben Aklinski bobbled the hit in centerfield and led Shepherd to believe he could score. Aklinski was able to get control of the ball and hit the cutoff man Trey Dawson perfectly. Dawson threw a seed home to throw out Shepherd and keep the game at a scoreless tie through six innings.
After a pair of thrillers, it was only right that the finale would come down to the last two innings. It would not be until the eighth inning that we would see a runner cross home plate. With two outs in the eighth, Kole Cottam chopped an infield single to third to score Tristan Pompey and give UK a 1-0 lead.
Justin Lewis’ performance would not go to waste tonight. The UK bullpen threw three scoreless innings in relief, including Chris Machamer coming on to throw 1.1 innings and get the save. The win locked up the second consecutive series win for the Cats in the SEC.
In a lineup that includes the likes of Tristan Pompey, Luke Heyer, and Kole Cottam, it is easy to look past the guys at the bottom of the order. Last night, there was no way to miss Trey Dawson’s contribution for Kentucky. Dawson delivered the go-ahead RBI double in the 11th inning last night in the Cats’ 6-4 win over Georgia. The game-winning hit was proof the Dawson has developed into a quality nine-hole hitter in this dangerous UK lineup.
“I choked up a little on the plate and really was just trying to put the ball in play, just make them make a play and happened to put a good swing on it,” Dawson said on his game-winning hit.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) April 14, 2018
Dawson’s heroic hit lifted his season batting average to .277. If you had looked at Dawson’s start to the 2018 season, this recent streak of solid hitting performances would come as a surprise. But to UK, it was the plan all along for Dawson to develop into a weapon at the bottom of the order. The UK coaching staff wanted Dawson to work two quality at-bats (meaning a hit, walk, HBP, sacrifice, etc.) every game. Dawson took that challenge and has made major strides in his development at the plate.
“These coaches and players are just awesome, they push us to be the best every day and this is a great program we got,” Dawson said.
Over the last five games, Dawson is 6/15 at the plate with two doubles and five RBIs. In that span, Dawson has collected his first multi-RBI game and hit his first career home run. It has been an impressive turnaround for a guy that started the season 1/14 at the plate.
Dawson is known as the defensive specialist on this year’s UK team. But his .319 batting average against SEC teams has shown the coaching staff and fanbase that he can contribute offensively against the best of the best in college baseball. If Dawson continues to hit at a high level in conference play, this lineup has a chance to do something special.
Dawson and the BatCats will be back in action today at 3 ET in a doubleheader against Georgia. The second game will follow at around 7 ET on SEC Network.
Never, ever count out this Kentucky team. The #9 BatCats rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the top of the ninth before Trey Dawson drove in two runs in the top of the 11th to boost UK to a 6-4 win over #18 Georgia. The come from behind win improved UK’s record to 24-10 overall and 6-7 in conference play.
For a while, it appeared that the Dogs had stumped the UK offense. The BatCats hit into three double plays in the late innings as they could not get a crooked number on the scoreboard against UGA’s pitching staff. The first eight innings were equally frustrating for UK starting pitcher Sean Hjelle. UGA hit a pair of two-run home runs off Hjelle, but the junior righty still looked the part of an SEC Pitcher of the Year throughout the game. Hjelle pitched eight innings, allowing four runs on six hits while striking out three.
UK had minimal support for Hjelle against starting pitcher Chase Adkins and Georgia. Luke Heyer’s RBI single in the fourth was the only run-producing play the Cats’ offense would muster in the support of their starting pitcher.
There is something about this team that has to make every game a thriller. Trailing by three, the BatCats rallied in the ninth inning. Trailing 4-1, the BatCats were down to their final strike several times but continually battled back. T.J Collett put the game in reach when he ripped an RBI double to right. After a walk by Ryan Johnson, Ben Aklinski singled home two runs to tie the game at four heading into extra innings.
“It wasn’t just Ben. Ben was the one that got up and knocked them in, but for those guys to be on and grind out at-bats,” Nick Mingione said. “This team wanted to win, man. That’s the thing I’ve said all year long with this team is when we have the desire to win that dominates like that, we’re as good as any team.”
It was in extra innings that the merit of this team really showed. With Chris Machamer shutting down the once powerful Dawgs’ lineup, the UK offense meticulously attacked UGA’s bullpen. Zeke Lewis and Ryan Johnson both walked to put two men on for Trey Dawson with two outs. The junior shortstop battled with two strikes and was rewarded with a good pitch to hit late in the at-bat. Dawson served a two-run double against Georgia’s Tony Lacey to give the Cats a 6-4 lead heading into the bottom of the 11th.
“I choked up a little on the plate and really was just trying to put the ball in play and make them make a play and happened to put a good swing on it,” Dawson said on his game-winning hit.
Following the rally in the top of the inning, Machamer jogged back out for his third inning in relief. The sophomore slammed the door with a strikeout to close out a 6-4 thriller in Athens.
Kentucky and Georgia will play a doubleheader tomorrow starting at 3 ET. The first game will be available on SECN+ with game two following at 7 ET on SEC Network.
The 28th episode of the KSR Baseball Podcast almost didn’t happen, thanks to a fickle bathroom door. Trey Huntsman spent an inning locked inside of a Cliff Hagan Stadium bathroom during the UofL game. He talked about his daring escape and everything else in the UK Baseball world with Coach Keith Madison. Highlights:
— How Sean Hjelle continues to improve his game.
— Zach Haake’s Saturday struggles.
— Kentucky’s one missing piece that could return to the team soon.
— Which former/current player would you want on your side during a bench-clearing brawl?
— Trey hits the road the Georgia, and Coach Madison’s surprise SEC teams.
— Leaving a legacy with Coach’s mound visit and memory from The Cliff.
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to Kentucky Sports Radio on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
By Drew Franklin on ©April 13th, 2018 @ 3:31pm
Wait just a minute…
Hamidou Diallo may not be ready to announce his decision after all.
Adam Zagoria spoke to Diallo’s mentor, Rob Diaz, who said reports of Diallo’s departure from UK are inaccurate.
“No the family and I will be meeting with him next week to make a decision on what he feels is best for him,” Diaz told Zagoria. “Anything else out as of now is just a rumor.’
Jon Rothstein of CBSSports.com cited multiple sources in his report of Diallo entering the draft and hiring an agent, so we have a classic showdown of contrasting messages here. Whatever the case may be, it’ll likely be a little longer before he hear anything from Diallo himself.
After a mid-afternoon scare, it’s time to exhale. Western Carolina (3-28) gave #9 Kentucky (23-10) all they wanted, but their upset bid fell short as the Cats won 7-5.
The Cats jumped out to a 4-0 lead before WCU battled back to tie the game in the sixth inning. After the Catamounts tied the game, Luke Becker put UK back in front for good with a solo home run in the seventh.
The go-ahead home run came after several dramatic innings. UK watched as their early 4-0 lead shrunk throughout the middle innings. Daniel Harper allowed two runs to score in the fourth inning before Brad Schaenzer allowed another run in the fifth as the Catamounts trimmed the lead to one.
The Cats got back on the board on an RBI groundout from Troy Squires, but WCU was still in attack mode. Caleb Robinson welcomed UK reliever Jimmy Ramsey with a solo home run in the sixth inning. The bleeding would not stop as the Catamounts tied the game on a Will Prater single later in the inning.
For UK, flashes of their early season loss to Northern Kentucky had to be going through their minds. The only difference between that game and tonight was the UK offense bounced to take the lead. Shortly after the Catamounts tied the game, Becker launched his fifth home run of the season to give UK a 6-5 lead. The Cats would score a second run in the seventh inning on a run-scoring double play that put them in front 7-5.
After some rough performances out of the pen in the middle innings, Carson Coleman and Chris Machamer shut down the final 3.2 innings with no issues. Coleman struck out four in 2.2 scoreless innings before handing the ball to Machamer for the ninth inning. Machamer allowed one man to reach in the ninth but stranded him at second as he picked up his fifth save of the season.
The upset was avoided today thanks to a loud performance by Alex Rodriguez. The JUCO transfer went 4-5 with three doubles and two RBIs to lead the charge in Tuesday’s win. Tuesday was Rodriguez’s first multi-hit and multi-RBI game of his UK career. Not bad for a dude that had five career hits entering the game.
Are you kidding me???!!@arodszn smokes a double to the wall in LCF, his third of the game. He’s 4-for-4 with three doubles, two runs, two RBI and a run-saving defensive play.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) April 11, 2018
The 7-5 win was another close call for the Cats in a midweek game. But in the RPI rankings, a win is a win. Kentucky will be back in action this weekend at Georgia for a three-game series starting at 7 ET on Friday.