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The KSR Baseball Podcast E23: UK Dominates Shriners Classic

A walk-off win over WKU ignited the Kentucky baseball team to an offensive explosion in Houston’s Minute Maid Park for the Shriners Classic.  Trey Huntsman and Keith Madison break down the Bat Cats big weekend.  Highlights:

—  Why Troy Squires’ play is so remarkable.

— What they liked most about the UK bullpen’s gutsy effort.

—  One weekend of tough competition is followed by a series against another top team when Texas Tech comes to town.

—  A look around the SEC, Coach Madison’s advice for the team and his latest “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.

UK Athletics

Luke Heyer Wins SEC Player of the Week

UK Athletics

Kentucky third baseman Luke Heyer was named SEC Player of the Week after a breakout performance at the Shriners Classic in Houston. Heyer hit .667 last week with three home runs and six RBIs as he collected UK’s first POW since Riley Mahan in 2017. The senior third baseman led UK to a 4-0 week, including a weekend sweep that included wins over Houston, Sam Houston State, and Louisiana Lafayette.

Heyer has burst onto the scene in 2017 after being used mainly in a utility role last season. UK’s third baseman leads the team in average and is tied with teammate T.J Collett for second in home runs (7) nationally. The senior has collected multiple hits in his last six games, including four times in the past week.


This weekend was a continuation of a stretch where he has barreled up every ball he has put into play. Over the weekend, Heyer went 8/11 with three home runs and five total extra-base hits against three quality opponents.

Heyer and the BatCats return to action tomorrow at 4 ET against Eastern Kentucky and at the same time on Wednesday against Northern Kentucky. The pair of midweeks will lead into a huge series against #3 Texas Tech this weekend.


Baseball Notebook: BatCats Sweep Shriners Classic

UK Athletics

Kentucky Baseball is the talk of the town after sweeping the Shriners Classic in Houston and going 4-0 this week. The BatCats are riding a seven-game winning streak after beating three teams in the last week that were in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The four wins this week could push UK into the top five before a series against #3 Texas Tech. But before the new week begins, let’s look back on an impressive four-game stretch for the BatCats.

Kentucky 4 Western Kentucky 3

The first eight innings of this midweek were not kind to UK’s offense. WKU’s Evan Acosta quieted a UK offense that tallied 42 runs in the previous weekend. It wasn’t until the ninth inning that UK began to wake up. Trailing 3-0, Ryan Johnson launched a solo home run to get the Cats on the board. After the Cats put men on second and third, Troy Squires delivered a two-out, two-strike single to tie the game at three. The wheels fell off for the Toppers after Squires’ big hit. An error and a pair of pitches to the backstop allowed UK to walk-off for the first time under Nick Mingione.

Kentucky 14 Houston 2

Friday was the most impressive offensive performance of the young season for the BatCats. Against 2017 American Pitcher of the Year Trey Cumbie and the Houston Cougars, UK erupted for 14 runs on 12 hits in the first game of the Shriners Classic. The Cats jumped out to a 10-0 lead and run-ruled the #24 Cougars in a 14-2 win. Luke Heyer hit a pair of home runs and Kole Cottam and Ryan Johnson each hit one ball out of Minute Maid Park as UK picked up their first win of the season against a top 25 team.

Kentucky 7 Sam Houston State 2

Kentucky put together a complete game in every aspect on Saturday. The Cats played error-free defense while Zack Thompson threw a gem against SHSU. The sophomore lefty shut out the Bearkats in six innings while allowing a season-low four hits. The bats got behind Thompson as Luke Heyer and T.J Collett both hit home runs in the 7-2 win.


Kentucky 10 Louisiana Lafayette 4

Sunday brought Kentucky’s first deficit over the weekend. ULL led 1-0 before Ryan Shinn tripled in two runs to take the lead after two innings. After a controversial call that put a runner at third for the Cajuns in the fifth, Justin Lewis threw a wild pitch that allowed a run to score and tie the game. The Cajuns would take the lead on an RBI single by Monroe Moll after the debacle in the fifth. But Kentucky’s offense was there to back up Lewis. Led by T.J Collett and Luke Heyer, UK outscored ULL 8-2 over the final four and a half innings to sweep the Shriners Classic.


The Cats Break Through at the Plate

What a weekend it was for the BatCats at the plate. Against three 2017 NCAA Tournament teams, UK scored 31 runs and hit six home runs at the home of the Houston Astros, Minute Maid Park. UK was working quality at-bats and barreling up a lot of balls all weekend. Look at Luke Heyer, for example. The senior third baseman went 8/11 and squared up every ball he put into play. Luke Heyer led the charge for an offense that made very few errors at the plate. As a team, the Cats walked 15 times compared to only striking out 17 times while posting a team OBP of .463 this weekend.

The top of the lineup is doing their job of getting on base before the Big Blue Bash Bros come up and drive them in. With Kole Cottam, Ryan Johnson, T.J Collett, and Luke Heyer in the middle of the lineup, UK has one of the most powerful offenses in the country. The four players combined to hit six home runs all over Minute Maid Park this weekend. This lineup has the chance to score more than last year’s offense that led the SEC in most categories.

Tuesday’s Game Sets The Tone

There was zero production before the ninth inning against WKU. UK scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth after being shut out for the first eight innings. The win appeared to jumpstart the offense. UK rallied off that win and put on an offensive clinic in Houston. Mingione said that his team needed to know that they need to finish games, and that is what they did in all three games this weekend. After coming back against WKU, the Cats played well from the first thru the ninth inning in each game in Houston.

Injury Update

Even though it was in a limited capacity, the Cats’ All-American Outfielder returned after missing four games due to an ankle injury. In pinch-hit situations against Sam Houston State and ULL, Pompey walked and laced a double down the left field line before being lifted for a pinch-runner both times. Pompey was gingerly running on his double, but the ankle did not appear to mess with his swing.

Sunday’s game was halted when junior outfielder Ryan Johnson was hit in the face when he tried to check his swing at a high fastball. Johnson was fortunate that the ball hit his lip rather than a couple inches higher. He was removed from the game and was shown in the dugout walking with a paper towel in his mouth.

The Week Ahead

No week on UK’s schedule will be more testing for the Cats. The Cliff will play host to five games over the next seven days. Eastern Kentucky and Northern Kentucky come to Lexington on Tuesday and Thursday before the big series against #3 Texas Tech this weekend.


UK Athletics

Cats Beat ULL 10-4 To Sweep Shriners Classic

UK Athletics

It was only fair that after a pair of blowout wins this weekend that Kentucky would face some adversity on Sunday. UK (11-1) trailed twice against Louisiana Lafayette but battled back both times on their way to a 10-4 win over the Cajuns. The gritty win was the third of the weekend for the BatCats and seventh consecutive overall.

The win would not come easy, though. The Cajuns struck first in the second inning on a sac fly by Hunter Cantrelle. But as ULL would learn, the BatCats’ offense backs up their pitching staff. With two outs in the bottom of the second, Ryan Shinn tripled to score a pair of runs and give UK a 2-1 lead.

ULL would continue to threaten in the sixth inning. With one out, Daniel Lahare hit a groundball ten feet in front of the plate. Lewis picked it up and fired the ball past first base and into the outfield to allow Lahare to advance to third. It was fairly obvious that Lahare had interfered by stepping outside the line, but he was called safe with no interference. The bad break cost Justin Lewis and the Cats. Lahare would score on a passed ball to tie the game at two in the sixth. The Cajuns would add another run on a Monroe Moll RBI single to take the lead in the sixth inning.

The Cats would handle the deficit immediately. Behind a TJ Collett home run and some quality at-bats, UK scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Collett and Luke Heyer mashed today against the Cajuns. The two bombers combined to go 8/10 with one home run, four doubles, and four RBIs.

Collett’s final hit of the day was the exclamation point on an exciting win for the Cats. The sophomore slugger banged a double against the left-center wall to give UK a 9-4 lead in the 8th. Not to be outdone, Heyer added an RBI single to push the Cats to double-digits with a three-run eighth inning.

Despite facing their first deficit since Tuesday, the Cats bounced back to blowout the Rajun Cajuns. Each time ULL scored, UK doubled their opponent’s amount of runs the following half inning. Even though they challenged the UK pitching staff, the Cajuns had no way to keep up with an offense that scored 31 total runs over three games in Houston.


UK Baseball doing more than winning games in Houston


The Kentucky baseball team is playing in the Shriners College Classic in Houston this weekend and they are winning both on and off the field.

Two patients at Shriners Medical Center in Lexington joined the team for their weekend trip to Houston. Kyera and J.P. might just be the reason the Bat Cats are 2-0 on this trip.

Both patients have thrown out first pitches but Kyera was a little bit more special. Kyera is the sister of redshirt freshman first basemen Brayden Combs.

Kyera followed up her strike on the field by doing an interview in the broadcast booth. She discussed the care she’s receiving at Shriners and how her brother plays for the team.


The baseball team and staff have gone out of their way to make these two patients feel special. This is just another reason you should be paying attention to this team.

The Cats take on Louisiana at noon. You can watch the stream of the game on or listen to the call on 630 AM WLAP.

UK Athletics

Zack Thompson Leads UK Past Sam Houston State

UK Athletics

Just a day removed from scoring 14 runs, it was Kentucky’s pitching that stole the show today in Houston. Zack Thompson threw six scoreless innings as the Cats beat Sam Houston State 7-2 in the second game of the Shriners Classic. The sophomore pitcher set the tone on the mound as UK improved to 10-1 on the season.

After allowing nine runs in his first 13 innings this season, Thompson twirled a dominating start against a SHSU offense that averaged 7.6 runs per game prior to today. Thompson showed good feel of all three pitches throughout his start against the BearKats. In the first three innings, Thompson only allowed two hits on a pair of bunt singles by Mac Odom. It wasn’t until the fifth inning that Sam Houston State collected a hit out of the infield against Thompson.

Thompson joined Sean Hjelle as UK starters that went six innings and allowed one or less earned runs this weekend. Last night, Hjelle shined while Houston’s Trey Cumbie struggled. Fast forward to today, where Thompson had a little more competition from his counterpart on the mound. Sam Houston State’s Hayden Wesneski gave UK everything he had in five innings on Saturday. Wesneski stranded four UK runners in five innings and kept the Cats from breaking the game open. Despite his constant fight, Wesneski could not completely halt the Cats’ offense.

Wesneski retired the first five UK batters before T.J Collett reached on a single in the second inning. Luke Heyer followed with his third home run of the weekend and seventh of the season to give UK a 2-0 lead. UK would tack on another run against Wesneski in the fifth when Ben Aklinski drove in his fifth run of the weekend to give UK a 3-0 lead after five.

The Bearkats looked to answer back against Thompson after UK stormed out to a three-run lead. But each time SHSU rallied, the sophomore flamethrower was there to shut them down. The Bearkats put three men on base in the fifth and sixth innings but Thompson stranded each runner as he held the powerful SHSU offense scoreless thru six innings.

Today’s start was without a doubt Thompson’s best start of 2018. The projected first-round pick in 2019 went six scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and one walks while striking out seven in his third start of the year.

As the Bearkats showed yesterday’s comeback win over Vanderbilt, they are never out of a game. After UK added two runs on a T.J Collett home run in the seventh, SHSU answered in the eighth. Andrew Fregia drove in a run on a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to four in the eighth. The Cats added a pair of runs in the bottom of the eight to stretch out the lead once again. The six-run deficit proved to be too much for SHSU as Zach Haake closed to book in the 9th on a 7-2 win for the Cats.

It was Thompson’s arm that set a dominant tone for Kentucky today at Minute Maid Park. Thompson’s second win of the season was his best since last June. Behind the sophomore stud, Kentucky improved to 10-1 on the season and 2-0 in the Shriners Classic.


(UK Athletics)

Kentucky Beats #24 Houston 14-2 In Opening Game Of The Shriners Classic

(UK Athletics)

On Texas Independence Day, the Kentucky offense was let loose in Houston. The Cats mercy-ruled #24 Houston 14-2 in the first game of the Shriners Classic at Minute Maid Park. From top to bottom, Kentucky’s lineup was impeccable against UH. The BatCats tallied 14 runs on 12 hits, including four home runs against a Houston pitching staff that had allowed only 20 runs in the team’s first eight games.

The onslaught began early in Houston. In the second inning, Luke Heyer delivered his first of two home runs to the back of the left-field bleachers at Minute Maid Park. Houston starter Trey Cumbie (1.50 ERA entering tonight) struggled to regain any momentum he had after Heyer’s hit. Following the home run, Ryan Johnson doubled, Alex Rodriguez reached on an error and Troy Squires walked after a ten-pitch at-bat to load the bases. Ben Aklinski served a two-out double against the 2017 American Conference Pitcher of the Year to give UK a 5-0 lead in the second. Aklinski went 3/5 with four RBIs to lead the charge for UK.

Houston was never able to recover after the second inning. Johnson followed his second inning double with a two-run home run in the third inning against Cumbie. Houston’s Friday Starter lasted only 3.1 innings against UK tonight.

The Houston bullpen had the same amount of success in trying to corral UK’s offense as their starter did. Luke Becker drove in a run on a 409-foot triple to dead-center and Kole Cottam hit a two-run home run that put UK up by ten against reliever Trevis Sundgren in the fourth inning.

While one conference pitcher of the year struggled, another soared. Sean Hjelle (3-0) allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits in six innings tonight. Hjelle had to battle more tonight than in his previous starts, but the junior kept Houston quiet while his offense continued to extend the lead.

The ten runs in four innings put Kentucky over their average production in 2018. Even with Tristan Pompey out with an ankle injury, UK’s lineup was unstoppable on Friday. The Cats had seven of their nine starters collect at least one hit while all nine scored at least one run in the blowout win.

Houston tacked on a pair of runs against Hjelle in the middle innings but the comeback was all for naught. Houston could not get the lead under ten to prevent a mercy-rule as UK ran away with a 14-2 win on Friday night.

Friday’s blowout win was UK’s most impressive victory of 2018. The offense ran wild after an off night against Western Kentucky on Tuesday. With the national spotlight on them on Friday, UK showed that their offense has not dropped off any since last season and that their lineup can do damage to the best of pitching staffs.



The Cats will be back in action tomorrow at 1 ET against Sam Houston State. The video feed for the game can be found here or you can tune in on 98.5. 

UK Athletics

Previewing Kentucky’s Opponents In The Shriners Classic

(Shriners Classic)

Nothing shows the toughness and talent of a young team like playing three experienced mid-majors at an MLB stadium in week three of the season. Kentucky is in Houston this weekend for the Shriners Classic at Minute Maid Park. The Cats will take on three 2017 NCAA Tournament teams in Houston, Sam Houston State, and Louisiana Lafayette this weekend. The three-game set has the feel of a regional with the amount of talent the Cats will play against in Houston.

Houston (Friday at 4:30 ET)

The Cats will play their highest-ranked opponent of the weekend on Friday afternoon when they take on the Houston Cougars. The #24 Cougs come in at 5-2 with five wins over 2017 NCAA Tournament teams. The strength for Houston comes from their pitching staff. Trey Cumbie and Aaron Fletcher lead a staff that has composed a 1.95 team ERA in their first seven games. Teams have struck out 82 times and are only hitting .192 against Houston in 2018. With numbers like those, it’s hard to believe that UH has lost this season. But their weakness early this year has been offensive production. As a team, the Cougars are hitting .233 with 36 runs scored. While their batting average is low, Houston does have 41 walks (compared to 56 hits) and a team OBP of .350, So, they are producing at just over five runs a game, but they are yet to face a pitcher like Sean Hjelle. The Cougs will struggle against Hjelle, but UK will also face a tough test in Cumbie. If UK can produce more than four runs on Friday, they should be able to knock off Houston.

Sam Houston State (Saturday at 1 ET)

Matt Deggs has taken the BearKats to national prominence over the last few seasons. The two-time defending champs of the Southland Conference advanced to their first Super Regional in 2017. SHSU returns 23 players from a team that won 44 games last season. The most notable returning players come on their pitching staff. Riley Gossett was named Preseason Pitcher of the Year and has started the season with a bang (1.08 ERA in two games). On Saturday, UK can expect to face either Seth Ballew (1.46 ERA in 12 innings) or Hayden Wesneski (3.68 ERA, 14 strikeouts). There aren’t many negatives in the 6-2 BearKats. Behind Hunter Hearn, their offense is slugging .477 in their first eight games. SHSU will be the only team UK will face this weekend that can match up against the Cats’ offense. The BearKats will present the biggest challenge to UK this weekend on both offense and pitching.

Louisiana Lafayette (Sunday at noon ET)

The Rajun Cajuns have been a championship contender for the large part of the last decade, but 2018 has been rough on ULL early. Lafayette is at the bottom of the Sun Belt in batting average and runs after games against Texas, SE Lousiana, Wright State, and Nicholls. The Cajuns were not expected to have the same level of success they have had in past years, but the first two weeks of the season have been a disappointment. ULL will struggle to get a hit against Justin Lewis on Sunday afternoon.

All three games will be broadcast on If you can’t watch, make sure to listen to Dick Gabriel on 98.5 or follow @TreyHuntsmanKSR for live updates.

Kentucky Wins On Walk-Off Against Western Kentucky

UK Athletics

After trailing Western Kentucky for the majority of Tuesday’s game, Kentucky’s offense woke up with their backs against the wall. UK rallied to tie the game at three in the bottom of the ninth before Cam Hill came home on a passed ball to give the Cats a 4-3 walk-off win over the Toppers.

“I told Coach Guill in the seventh ‘I want a walk-off for these guys so bad’,” Mingione said. “You know what? You have to be able to experience it. We’re going to be in that situation again, we’re going to be down going into the ninth and we’re going to have to do something to get us a win and the fact that we’ve been there and we’ve done it is good.”

WKU led 3-0 after Ray Zuberer’s two-run bomb off Daniel Harper in the fifth inning. The Toppers were capitalizing in big situations while UK had stranded five runners in the first five innings. UK’s bats could not solve WKU starting pitcher Evan Acosta. The junior went six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out three.

The UK bullpen bridged the gap between the sixth and ninth innings with four scoreless innings. After junior Zach Haake made his collegiate debut in the top of the ninth, UK’s offense needed three runs to tie the game against WKU closer Ben Morrison.

Morrison struck out Kole Cottam and got Ryan Johnson down 1-2 when Johnson delivered a line drive home run over the right-field wall. The solo home run woke up the dugout and the crowd at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Luke Heyer followed with an infield single to send a buzz throughout the park. After Ryan Shinn flew out, Trey Dawson ripped a double to left-center that gave UK runners at second and third for Troy Squires.

Squires shot an 0-2 pitch from Morrison back up the middle to score a pair of runs and tie the game at three. “We have a saying ‘hit it to the pitcher’s knees with two outs so that’s all I was trying to do,” Squires said.

WKU could never regain the momentum that carried them for eight innings. Ben Aklinski reached on a fielding error and both runners moved up on a wild pitch by Ryan Thurston. On the next pitch, Thurston threw a low breaking ball that catcher Colin Butkiewicz could not handle as it rolled to the backstop. Pinch runner Cam Hill read the ball well from third base and dashed home to score the clinching run in a 4-3 win for UK.

“We’re going to finish every play, we’re going to finish every pitch, we’re going to finish every game,” Mingione said. The Cats were able to finish the first walk-off under Mingione with tonight’s 4-3 win over WKU.

Kentucky travels to Houston this weekend for the Shriners Classic at Minute Maid Park. All games will be available on

Today on KSR: Anthony Davis Dropped 50, Again


No Boogie? No problem.  The Brow’s got this.

Last night Anthony Davis out-dueled Devin Booker to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to their sixth consecutive win.  Booker scored 40 points, but he could not keep up with Davis, who finished with 53 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks in the 125-116 win.  Davis is only the second player to ever record a 50-point, 15-rebound, 5-block game.

Davis’ game was great, but The Real MVP is the Pelicans’ social media staff.

Davis has stepped up his game in Boogie’s absence.  Through the six-game win streak he is averaging 41.5 points, 14.8 rebounds, 3.2 blocks and 3 steals per game.  Wow.

Hear from Coach Cal

The Kentucky Wildcats are rolling through a three-game win streak.  This afternoon around 2:00 the head coach will talk about his streaking team as the Cats prepare for the final two games of the regular season.

Clear Bags at the SEC Tourney

The SEC announced yesterday they will continue to have a clear bag policy at all championship events.  If you aren’t prepared for it, you probably haven’t been to a game in two years.  Click here for a clear bag policy refresher.

A Big Night of SEC Basketball

We will have a much clearer SEC Tournament picture after Super Tuesday.  All three teams tied for third place with Kentucky are in action tonight.  If Arkansas, Florida and Miss. State all fall, the Cats are primed to lock up a double-bye in the SEC Tournament.  A complete look at tonight’s packed slate of games:

Time Game Network
7:00 #16 Tennessee at Miss. State SEC
7:00 Florida at Alabama ESPN
7:00 Mizzou at Vanderbilt ESPN2
7:00 Oklahoma State at Iowa State ESPNU
7:00 St. Joe’s at #17 Rhode Island CBSSN
9:00 #14 Auburn at Arkansas SEC
9:00 DePaul at Creighton FS1
9:00 Oklahoma at Baylor ESPN2
9:00 Miami at #9 North Carolina ESPN
9:00 Kansas State at TCU ESPNU


Following a trip to Kentucky for Junior Day, Georgia outside linebacker KD McDaniel committed to Kentucky.  The three-star linebacker is Mark Stoops’ second commitment in the 2019 recruiting class.  For the “wait till Signing Day” crowd, know this: the second player to commit in the 2018 class, defensive end Davaon Hawkins, signed with UK in December and was one of Freddie’s favorite additions in the class.

Stoops Speaks

Spring Practice begins next week (you can now get your Spring Game tickets here).  Before kicking off five weeks of football, Mark Stoops sat down with Matt Jones on Hey Kentucky to reflect on his first five years as Kentucky’s head coach.

The KSR Baseball Podcast E22 with Former UK Pitcher Logan Salow

After the Bat Cats brought their brooms to The Cliff for a sweep of Oakland, Trey Huntsman and Keith Madison are joined by former UK pitcher Logan Salow.  Kentucky’s closer a year ago was in Lexington to see this weekend’s series and shared his thoughts on the team before he leaves for spring training.  Highlights:

—  What the transition was like between coaches and how Salow responded when he heard Mingione’s name was being considered for the Miss. State job.

—  What Salow is most looking forward to in Spring Training and how he’s preparing.

—  The almost no-hitter from the week.

—  Why the mid-week match-up with mid-major WKU will present a challenge.

—  The debut of a new segment: Coach Madison’s memories 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.

WATCH: Relive the final Opening Day at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Virtual Reality

WATCH: Relive the final Opening Day at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Virtual Reality

Have you ever wanted to watch a baseball game through the eyes of a baseball manager? Or know what it’s like to sit behind home plate? Did you missed the final Opening Day at Cliff Hagan Stadium on Tuesday night and want to see just what the record-breaking crowd was like?

Or do you just want a break from today’s massive college basketball scandal sweeping the nation?

If so, you’re in luck.

KSR filmed the event in virtual reality, featuring camera angles from right behind Nick Mingione on top of the dugout, behind home plate, down the third-base line, and up in the stands.

If you have a virtual reality headset, throw them on and play the video below.

If you don’t have a headset, you can still relive the event in full 360-degree video by clicking play and dragging your cursor around on the screen.

Check out the final product:

We’ll be working on another virtual reality project with the final basketball home game of the season next Wednesday against Ole Miss, featuring the pregame warmups, introductions, press row with the KSR crew, and the postgame interviews.

KSRVR is coming in hot.

(Video created by Jack Pilgrim and Hayden Hooper)

Sean Hjelle Flirts With No-Hitter In Tonight’s Win

UK Athletics

Sean Hjelle was as close to perfect as a pitcher could be on Friday. The junior righty carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning as UK rolled past Oakland 10-1. The Grizzlies’ only baserunners against Hjelle came on a pair of errors and a two-out single in the eighth inning by Jordan Jackson that ended Hjelle’s no-hitter.

Even though Hjelle could not finish off the no-hitter, he was as dominant as he has been at UK. Hjelle struck out a career-high 13 as he cruised through Oakland’s lineup. With his curveball dropping hard today, Hjelle struck out two batters in each of the first five innings.

For as dominant as Hjelle was, UK’s offense was just as good. The Cats jumped on Oakland’s Jake Lee in the bottom of the second by batting around and scoring five runs. The onslaught continued in the third when Troy Squires singled home a pair of runs and Trey Dawson took home on a caught stealing at second to give UK an 8-0 lead thru three innings. The Cats’ final two runs came in the sixth inning when T.J Collett crushed his third home run of the year and Ryan Johnson drove in a run on RBI single.

UK’s approach at the plate was improved since Tuesday’s loss to Xavier. According to Nick Mingione, UK swung at only seven pitches out of the zone tonight while walking five times.

Hjelle did not need more than one run of support in his time on the mound. In 7.2 innings, Oakland put just one runner in scoring position against Hjelle. Jimmy Belanger told Hjelle that the eighth would have been his last inning regardless, so UK went to their bullpen immediately following Jackson’s hit. Tripp Lockhart and Brett Marshall combined to record the final four outs of the game, surrendering one run, to finish off a fantastic series opener against Oakland. 

Mingione on Mississippi State job: “I don’t see that happening.”

UK head baseball coach Nick Mingione made a special guest appearance on today’s edition of Kentucky Sports Radio radio to respond to the rumors of him being a potential candidate for the Mississippi State opening. Mingione made a statement earlier in the week, but Matt Jones didn’t love it, so he asked Mingione to call in to the show to expand on what he originally said.

When asked by KSR if Big Blue Nation is going to watch him bolt for Starkville, Mingione said, “No, I don’t see that happening and here’s why: Christen and I, we love this place. Lexington is our home. I fell in love with this place when I came here in ’06. And my brain works in boxes, maybe some other people’s don’t, and I put a ton of checkmarks in all of the boxes here. So you know what, this is our job, this is the position we’ve been given, and we’re obviously trying to do the best job we can, and there’s really nothing to talk about in regards to Mississippi State.”

When pushed to stand by that statement, Mingione again said, “I don’t see that happening.”

His interview concluded with this: “If I didn’t think we could win here, or win a national championship, I wouldn’t have came here to begin with… I would’ve never put my family in the position of coming here if I didn’t believe this was possible.”

Listen to the entire interview:

Cannizaro was fired in only his second season in Starkville. (Getty Images)

Nick Mingione Addresses Mississippi State Rumors

Photo by Guy Ramsey, UK Athletics

The 2018 college baseball season is less than a week old and it has already been filled with plenty of drama. Three games into the season Mississippi State announced that head coach Andy Cannizaro was resigning from his position in Starkville. After the news of Cannizaro’s resignation at MSU swept across the SEC, Nick Mingione’s name was obviously one of the first names that came to mind as a replacement.

The former Bulldog assistant, Mingione coached under former coach and current MSU AD John Cohen for nearly a decade. After last night’s game, Mingione was asked about the Miss. State vacancy. He initially did not have much to say. 

“Yeah, you know what, it’s a sad deal for everybody, right? Like anytime anybody loses their job, man that’s hard. You know what, that’s to be expected — my name, right? I spent over a decade with Coach Cohen, like right? That’s like the obvious, right? Why wouldn’t they say my name? I just feel bad. That’s just an unfortunate deal. Man, I hate that for our sport.”

Cannizaro was fired in only his second season in Starkville. (Getty Images)

It is still too soon to know which direction MSU will take for the coaching search, but Mingione will most likely be one of the first names they call. Auburn’s Butch Thompson, Sam Houston State’s Matt Deggs, and TCU’s Kirk Saarloos will all be options in this summer’s coaching search. Personally, I think Mississippi State needs to think smaller. The Diamond Dogs view themselves as elite, and they believe they deserve the best coach to fill this role. Cohen and company would need to bring a HUGE package if they wanted to convince the likes of Mingione or Thompson to come to Starkville.

For Mingione, the move would be a lateral one. The second-year head coach has a new stadium on the way as well as a newly-signed contract extension at UK. Later, Mingione talked about Kentucky and if it was a destination school.

“When you think about what’s important to you, I think it’s been really clear from day one that my faith is really important to me, and then my family, and baseball,” Mingione said. “This place checks off a lot of boxes.

“We’re growing spiritually. Obviously, it’s a place where my wife is comfortable and loves it. The education in Lexington is unbelievable. And obviously, we’ve been able to have a real successful year and we’re trying to do something again this year that has never been done before. You start checking off a lot of boxes and this is a really neat place and I believe in our athletic director Mitch Barnhart and I believe in our President, Dr. Capilouto. This is a really neat deal and there’s a reason why the University of Kentucky is thriving.”


While he didn’t formally say that he is not interested in the job, it doesn’t appear that Mingione would take the MSU gig. It would take a lot to pull Mingione away from UK after his second season. As for Mississippi State, former UK coach Gary Henderson will take over in the interim as they begin their coaching search.