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Riley Mahan picked in third round of MLB draft

@UKBaseball

Another Kentucky Wildcat is off the board in the MLB draft.

Sophomore infielder Riley Mahan was selected 89th overall, a third-round selection, by the Miami Marlins. Mahan will join fellow Wildcat alum and infielder J.T. Riddle in the Miami organization. We could one day see Mahan on second and Riddle at short.

Mahan was a three-time SEC Player of the Week this past season, while Baseball America named him to its third All-America team.

He is the second Wildcat to be drafted through the first two days of the draft, joining first basemen Evan White, the No. 17 overall selection.

Go Cats.


Evan White Drafted by the Seattle Mariners in First Round of the MLB Draft

UK Athletics

With the 17th pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, the Seattle Mariners selected Kentucky first basement Evan White.

Considered one of the best defensive first basemen in the country, his bat was underrated.  He hit a team-high .373, slugged .637, hit 10 home runs, 24 doubles and 41 RBIs.  He was at his best when it mattered most, getting four hits in eight Super Regional at-bats.  White will end his three-year career on UK’s top five list of hits, doubles and batting average.

The junior is just the fifth first round selection in school history.  He’s the school’s first position player to be drafted since 1996 and the first UK player picked in the first round since 2011.  A second team All-SEC selection in 2016 and 2017, he was named to the SEC’s All-Defensive Team every single year at Kentucky.


Previewing Tonight’s MLB Draft For The BatCats

UK Athletics

Tonight marks the beginning of the 40-round MLB Draft. The BatCats will have several players that will go in the first two days of the Draft, including projected first-rounder Evan White. The first two rounds of the Draft will take place tonight on MLB Network, so read up on where Kentucky players could potentially land this year.

Evan White, Junior, First Baseman- There have been big-league scouting reports on White since he got to campus three years ago. White is the most athletic first basemen in all of amateur baseball. He has great range at first and covers the bag extremely well. Many coaches have called him the best defensive first baseman they have ever seen, and Coach Madison compares him to Keith Hernandez. Besides winning a Gold Glove and being named to the All-SEC Defensive Team, White has a plus bat as well. White hit .318 as a freshman and .378 last year. The big year last year led to White being named to Team USA where he played for scouts all summer. White battled injuries early but still lead the team in average. He doesn’t have the same kind of power that many first base prospects have, but he hits for a high average and will most likely stick at first. White’s performance in the postseason only helped his stock. All projections have White going in the top 20. The Giants, Blue Jays, and Yankees have been tied to White since projections began.

Projected Round- Top 20 picks

Perfect Fit: Toronto Blue Jays- The Jays will be down for some time. White would be on a fast track to the majors and could stick within the next two years as the Jays build a new team.

Zach Pop, Junior, Pitcher- The tall righty made quite an impact coming out of the bullpen this year. Pop sits around 97 when he is on with a nice slider. He started some last year but has been exclusively a bullpen guy in 2017. The late season forearm injury sidelined him for over a month and will most likely affect where he lands in the Draft. For teams interested in Pop, it will all be about upside. For me, I think someone should take him and develop him into a dominant bullpen guy.

Projected Round- Fifth Round

Perfect Fit: Atlanta Braves- After developing the likes of Craig Kimbrel, the Braves know how to handle closers. Pop could take his time rising through their system and work on commanding his fastball.

UK Athletics

Riley Mahan, Junior, Infielder- Mahan is one of the hardest guys to place in this Draft. Baseball America has him listed as a top 100 prospect, but other sites don’t have him listed in the top 200. I think this comes back to the defense. He struggled at shortstop but found some improvement at second base. What he doesn’t show in the field he makes up for at the plate. Mahan led the team in home runs and RBIs as he was named SEC Player of the Week three times. I really like Mahan as an offensive guy in this draft. There will be a team that takes a chance on him and puts him in rookie ball or extended spring training to work out the defensive issues. He will be one of the steals of the Draft if his offense continues to improve.

Projected Round- Third Round

Perfect Fit: Colorado Rockies- The mile high air would be perfect for Mahan. The Rockies also developed Trevor Story, Tro Tulowitzki, and Forrest Wall into quality bats recently. His rise to the big leagues would be in several hitter-friendly parks as well.

Justin Lewis, RS Sophomore, Pitcher- Even with Sean Hjelle dominating on Friday nights, no one showed better stuff at times than Lewis. Teams will love the fastball/changeup mix that the 6’7″ righty brings to the table. Lewis took a no-hitter past the fifth inning twice this year as a redshirt sophomore. The issue for Lewis late in the season was walking batters. He just needs to work on commanding those pitches as his changeup is one of the best in the entire Draft.

Projected Round- 7th-10th Rounds

Perfect Fit: St. Louis Cardinals- With two plus pitches, Lewis is very projectable. The Cardinals are well known for developing pitchers, and Lewis would fit well in this system.

(Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

Zach Reks, Senior, Outfielder- Reks has not received much love on draft rankings in the last week, and I do not know why. He will be an easy sign, he has done nothing but hit, and he is a good baserunner. After walking on at UK, Reks was excellent. As a senior, Reks hit .352 stole 15 bases and had a fielding percentage of .991 in left field.

Projected Round- 12th round.

Perfect Fit: San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox

Logan Salow, Senior, Pitcher- Salow’s strikeout numbers went through the roof as a senior. He will be able to be signed for well below slot as a senior. Salow pitched 55.1 innings this season and struck out 73 batters on his way to All-SEC honors. It is yet to be seen if Salow will carry that mojo into the next level, but I feel like Salow will be developed as a late reliever for the remainder of his career.

Projected Round- 8th Round

Perfect Fit: San Francisco Giants

Other Players that will be drafted

Zach Logue, Junior, Pitcher

Troy Squires, Junior, Catcher

Connor Heady, Senior, Shortstop

Marcus Carson, Senior, Outfielder


MLB Draft begins Tomorrow

Just when you thought baseball season was done for the Cats, tomorrow brings the start to the MLB Draft. For those that are Reds fans, like myself, this draft brings a lot of intrigue as to who they might pick. Will it be Vanderbilt’s Kyle Wright? High Schooler Hunter Greene? Or even Louisville’s Brendan McKay?

Not an MLB fan? Well, the start of the draft still should bring some attention for you. Kentucky 1st Baseman, Evan White, is a projected first round pick. White finished the season with a .373 average, 10 home runs and 41 RBI’s. White is an intriguing prospect, because of how polished of a hitter he is. This year’s draft class doesn’t have many strong bats, which should play into his favor. Over the past few days, multiple sites have been putting forth their final mock drafts. Here is where White is projected currently:

Website Projection
Baseball America #15- Astros
Sporting News #23- Dodgers
CBS Sports #12- Pirates
Bleacher Report #19- Giants

Pitcher Justin Lewis will also likely hear his name called, as well as Ballard High School star Jordan Adell, who is a projected first round pick.


Entering Dead Period Day 1

UK Athletics

Once the buzzer sounded against North Carolina back in March, a lot of us probably entered into stasis, beginning the long wait until football season rolled back around. At that time, fans were in mourning, and even for those paying attention, it was unclear just how successful Nick Mingione’s squad would be.

Low and behold, UK Baseball came roaring in to help bridge that always dreadful summer gap. Yesterday’s defeat came only after the team had reached the greatest success in program history, and for them to wind up in a showdown with Louisville, maybe the only team in the country that would’ve drawn out fans in such droves, was icing on the cake. Had the Cats played anyone else, you can be certain the fever pitch would’ve never grown as loud as it did yesterday.

The expectation of success always haunts the basketball team. Qualifying for a bowl game tends to be the make or break moment for the football team. The baseball team, however, isn’t shackled quite so much. Their success this season has turned the Big Blue Nation’s eyes back towards the diamond, and fans seem to be eager to see just how good they can become in the coming years with Mingione at the helm.

So congrats again to the baseball team on a great season. You guys have earned the newfound support you’ll have at the beginning of next year.

In the meantime, (sigh) 83 days ’til kickoff.

@JayWinkKSR


UK Athletics

Kentucky’s Season Ends With 6-2 Loss To Louisville

UK Athletics

Kentucky’s record-breaking season came to an end today. Brendan McKay and Louisville were too much for the Cats as they fell 6-2 in today’s Super Regional. Evan White collected two hits and Sean Hjelle allowed four runs in 5.1 innings as the starter.

Drew Ellis killed UK with a three-run home run off Zach Logue in game one. He went back to the well for two more bombs today against Sean Hjelle. The first of the day came in the second inning when Hjelle left a pitch up in the zone that Ellis sent over the wall in left-center to give Louisville a 1-0 lead.

Hjelle was able to settle down after the early mistake. He stranded two runners in the third and seemed to settle in during the fourth inning. The only issue for UK was that Brendan McKay was settling in as well. Kentucky’s gameplan of not being aggressive and taking pitches didn’t have much of an effect early, but it did keep McKay from going as deep as he could have gone. McKay had to throw a lot of pitches early, but UK could not get anything going offensively.

Louisville began to add on in the fifth and sixth innings. Logan Taylor and Colby Fitch both reached with one out in the fifth before Devin Mann flew out to score Taylor from third. Hjelle pitched into the sixth and hit a wall. Ellis got all over a pitch and homered for the second time off Hjelle to send UK’s starter to the dugout. Zach Pop entered with one out and a man on first. Josh Stowers greeted him with a RBI triple down the left field line as the Cards increased their lead to three. Pop loaded the bases and was immediately removed for Logan Salow. Thanks to some slick fielding by Evan White, UK got out of the jam with a double play.

Trailing by three, UK looked to be rallying in the sixth. White and Reks singled with one out and moved up on a balk by McKay. The National Player of the Year settled in and struck out two to end the threat.

Kentucky’s approach at the plate began to pay off in the bottom of the seventh. With McKay over 95 pitches, the Cats put runners at the corners with no outs. Tristan Pompey delivered a RBI single to center to chase McKay with two outs in the seventh.

 

Sam Bordner entered and walked White to start his outing. Bordner settled in and struck out Zach Reks to leave the bases loaded. It was yet another opportunity to get a big inning that UK could not capitalize on.

The impact of leaving the bases loaded was felt immediately. Salow allowed a two-strike, two-out double by Taylor to score Tyler Fitzgerald from first. One more run came around on a single by Mann that dropped in no man’s land to give Louisville a 6-2 lead. 

Justin Lewis entered for Salow in the ninth. Lewis was supposed to start tomorrow if necessary, but Nick Mingione went to him with a runner on in the ninth. Lewis allowed a single but that was all as he got UK to the bottom of the ninth.

UK was unable to get another rally in the bottom of the ninth and dropped the second game of the Super Regional. Kentucky finished 43-23 on the season but finished two wins from Omaha.

 


Notes From Today’s Press Conference

UK Athletics

Coach Nick Mingione was joined by Evan White and Riley Mahan on the podium following today’s 6-2 loss. Here are several notes from the tough press conference following the season’s end.

This season was important on and off the field- Coach Mingione automatically went back to his adage of “student, person, player” in today’s press conference. “We told them we were going to hold them accountable for every move they make, and when you do that, it starts in the classroom,” Mingione said. “Then, the decisions they make off the field and how they’re going to practice and approach each day.” Mingione stayed on the theme of family and relationships throughout the postgame.

This team had a huge effect on Mingione and his family- Coach Mingione made sure that he created a family environment from the moment he got to campus. He wanted all the players, coaches, families, and staff to be a unit.  Mingione said in his opening statement “They probably think that myself and our coaches changed their lives, but more importantly, I promise they changed my wife and my son’s lives the way they have touched our coaches.” Mingione got choked up in the postgame talking about the effect this team had.

Kentucky did things that this program had never seen- “We knew from day one we were going to do things that had never been done,” Mahan said. This UK team went to the first Super Regional in school history, had the SEC Coach of the Year and Pitcher of the Year, and put the program in the national eye. Less than a year after being hired, Mingione took this team to new heights. Normally, it takes several years to put a team into the top ten nationally. Mingione did it in 362 days.


There’s an Addition to the Rally Cup Cap

There’s an Addition to the Rally Cup Cap

Kentucky’s infamous Rally Cup Cap looks a little different today.  Austin Keen has created a hammer to accompany the horned cap.

The Cats need the rallying power of Thor’s hammer. They trail Louisville 2-0 after Drew Ellis hit his second homerun of the series in the second inning. They just added another run off a sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth.


There’s a Change in the UK Baseball Starting Lineup

Fans filled the plaza before the gates opened, via @JohnWDRB.

In today’s Super Regional elimination game, Nick Mingione is making a change behind the plate.  Troy Squires is replacing Kole Cottam to catch for Sean Hjelle.

Cottam’s hot bat helped UK reach this point, that’s why he’ll stay in the lineup as a DH, replacing Luke Becker’s mullet.  Cottam’s double off the right field wall against N.C. State gave Kentucky the lead for good in the Regional Final.

Yesterday Cottam caused some commotion, jawing with Drew Ellis after Ellie hit a three-run homerun in the fifth inning.  That altercation, and Squires’ elite defending ability, is probably why Cottam will only hit today against UofL.

@UKBaseball

The first pitch is at 12:04 on ESPN.


Getty Images

Scouting Louisville’s Brendan McKay

Getty Images

The BatCats have faced top arms all season. Whether it be LSU’s Alex Lange or North Carolina’s J.B Bukauskas, UK has seen some nasty stuff on the mound in 2017. But they haven’t faced Brendan McKay. He was recently named Baseball America’s Player of the Year as both a hitter and a pitcher. McKay is 9-3 with 131 strikeouts in 97.1 innings. As a hitter, McKay is one of the best power hitters in all of college baseball. His ability to hit for a high average and drive the ball has him as one of the two candidates for the number one overall pick next Tuesday. But what makes him so special on the mound?

The Fastball

MLB.com notes that McKay will sit low 90s early in games and will lose the velocity throughout the middle innings. The fastball may even drop into the high-80s if McKay is on the mound deeper into games. But even without throwing gas, McKay just needs to locate the pitch. He has other plus pitches he can use to get swings.

 

 

The above video really shows what he can do with that fastball. He is locating it well despite not having a ton of life on the pitch. Scouts and insiders love his command. When you aren’t hitting mid to high 90s, you have to command the fastball. McKay locates well and it makes that pitch just as effective late in games as it does early.

The Curveball

McKay has a plus breaking ball with his curveball. It gets a lot of vertical drop and will get around 81 MPH. The video below shows how it can be used on the outer half of the plate, but it is also a fantastic pitch in against right-handers. MLB.com gave his curve a 60 grade (out of 80) in their newest Draft preview.

McKay will also throw a changeup, but it is not as effective as the fastball or changeup. He may not have the velocity of Bukauskas or the crazy hook of Lange, but he is extremely effective with those two pitches. He gets a lot of swings and misses and will locate well.

How can UK beat McKay?

The Cats have never faced McKay in his three years at Louisville, so they don’t have much of a feel for him coming into today’s game. The Cats had faced Kade McClure several times and it didn’t seem to help them in yesterday’s loss. McKay locates well, but UK needs to work good, long at-bats on the All-American. Florida State and Duke proved that he can be touched, but his mistakes are few and far between. In both of the aforementioned games, Louisville’s opponents put up crooked numbers in the fifth inning. When that velo begins to drop, UK may be able to strike. The Cats will also need to capitalize on defensive mistakes and any pitches McKay leaves up in the zone. With Sean Hjelle on the mound, UK will not need to put up ten runs to win. Even with Hjelle not being as effective recently, he is still the top pitcher in the SEC. The offense needs to give him some support and let him settle in. That will be easier said than done against McKay. The BatCats need to jump on any mistakes and rattle McKay in the middle innings.

Kentucky hasn’t faced someone with a makeup like McKay this season. But they have faced some of the top arms in the country. They roughed up projected #1 overall pick Kyle Wright and Vanderbilt. The forced Lange to walk eight batters. For me, it will be about UK’s approach at the plate. Can they get free passes and get guys in scoring position? If they can, they will make it interesting tomorrow. 

 


UK Athletics

Visit Prestonburg’s KSR Top 10

Discover Prestonsburg, the “Star City of Eastern Kentucky”. Whether you’re into outdoor adventure, musical entertainment, theatre, history or science, Prestonsburg has a little something for everyone.  Located along U.S. 23, the country music highway, Prestonsburg offers an array of musical entertainment.  The Mountain Arts Center is a performing arts venue that hosts the Billie Jean Osborne’s KY Opry.  Be mesmerized by the local talent on stage that will leave you understanding why we say, “There’s something in the water”.   The KY Opry kicks off June 17.  If you’re looking for just a relaxing music evening, checkout some of our local restaurants such as McGuire’s Brickhouse or Lizzie B’s on Friday and Saturday Nights that have local bands performing into the night.

Catch an outdoor theatre show at the Jenny Wiley Theatre this summer.  This year’s summer shows will include Tarzan and Madagascar.  Shows start June 23 for a magical experience under the stars.   For history buffs, educate yourselves at the Battle of Middlecreek, the largest Civil War battle in Eastern KY or tour through the Historic Samuel May House.  Explore the East Kentucky Science Center & Varia Planetarium one of the most technologically advanced planetariums in the nation.  You also don’t want to miss out on the Hubble Exhibit on display until September.

For the outdoor enthusiast, enjoy Jenny Wiley State Resort Park.  The park features plenty of hiking, biking, fishing, birding, boating opportunities and even elk tours during the fall & winter season.  Check out our newly created Sugar Camp Mountain Trails that add an additional 26 miles of mountain biking that are like no other in the region.  Like Kayaking? Experience our Levisa Fork PaddleFest, the fourth Saturday May – Sept., and kayak up the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River into Paintsville.  Of course no trip to Prestonsburg is complete without a trip to StoneCrest Golf Course, whether an avid golfer or just there to take in the views, this reclaimed strip mine is a beauty like no other.  Call Prestonsburg Tourism at 800-844-4704 or visit prestonsburgky.org for more information.


1. Win or Go Home

The Kentucky baseball team is playing for its life.  After their ninth inning rally ended prematurely, the Cats must avenge their 5-2 loss to the Cards or their season will end in Louisville two wins short of the College World Series in Omaha.

2. One Bad Inning

Kentucky surrendered two runs in the first inning, but remained in game one until a disastrous fifth.  The first two UK batters reached base, but Marcus Carson’s bunt went right back to the pitcher, who made the force out at third.  A passed ball appeared to wipe away the bad bunt, but Carson got tagged out before sliding into second.  Instead of getting two runs to tie the game, they gave away a three-run homerun in the bottom of the inning.

The Bat Cats continued to fight until the tying run arrived at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.  Erase one bad inning and we might be telling a different story this morning.

3. A Pitching Duel

Brendan McKay vs. Sean Hjelle is a college baseball nerd’s wet dream.  A National Player of the Year vs. the 6’11” SEC Pitcher of the Year.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Neither team got a ton of offense going yesterday, they simply capitalized off the other team’s mistakes; Louisville only needed four hits to score five runs.  There will not be as many mistakes today.  The Cats must take advantage of every opportunity to put McKay against the ropes.

UK Athletics

4. Where to Watch/Listen

5. KHSAA Softball/Baseball Playoffs Continue

The Super Regional isn’t the only action on Kentucky dirt diamonds.  The first leg of the state baseball tournament is underway in Lexington at Whitaker Bank Ballpark, while the softball tournament is nearing the end in Owensboro.

Baseball/softball tournaments are weird.  Double elimination, pool play etc. creates tournament chaos.  Yesterday, things got too crazy in Owensboro.  Mercy was eliminated in the losers bracket 2-0 in 14-innings. Their fourth game of the day ended just before midnight.  If they would’ve won, their semifinal game would start right now.  Certainly there’s a better way to do this, KHSAA.

Softball Final Four

  • South Warren vs. Owensboro Catholic
  • Male vs. Madisonville-North Hopkins

Baseball Results

  • Scott County 4, Caldwell County 0
  • Highlands 3, Johnson Central 1
  • PRP 4, Franklin-Simpson 3
  • McCracken County 1, Trinity 0

Baseball Quarterfinals

  • Simon Kenton vs. Muhlenberg County at 11:00 a.m.
  • Knox Central vs. Marion County at 1:30 p.m.
  • McCracken County vs. Scott County at 6:00 p.m.
  • Highlands vs. PRP at 8:30 p.m.

6. Kentucky Football Camps Begin

The Kentucky football team is beginning camp season with their biggest recruiting weekend of the summer.  Headlined by quarterback Jarren Williams, defensive linemen Alex Reigelsperger and Tyler Bentley, there’s a TON of talent in Lexington today.  I’ll preview the visitors in a little while before heading to the event under the Kroger Field lights.

7. Enlightenment from a Champion of Life

Tennessee defensive coordinator Bob Shoop doesn’t use social media often, but when he does it’s for the greater good.  Few words are more inspiring than these.

@RedditCFB

8. The Cavs Won

This are three words I did not expect to type during the NBA Finals.  Facing elimination, the Cavs played like they needed to play four games ago.  They prevented the Warriors from becoming the first team to ever go 16-0 in the playoffs, but they’ll need another crazy offensive performance to extend the series to six.

9. Belmont Saturday

Even though a Triple Crown isn’t on the line, there’s still some good racing happening at Belmont Park.  A few Kentucky Derby favorites — Irish War Cry, Gormely and Patch — return to the track, ensuring an eventful mile and a half race.

Post time is at 6:37 on NBC.  For more racing coverage throughout the day, hit up NBC Sports Network.

10. Game of Thrones is Almost Here

That’s why T.J. Walker and I have restarted Kentucky Thrones Radio.  In the six weeks leading into the show, the hour-long podcast is reviewing all six seasons and connecting their stories to where we are now.  The first one is pretty fun and can be found here.  Any and all feedback is appreciated.  For more, keep that podcast feed prepared to see new episodes each Monday before the July 16 premiere.


UK Athletics

News And Notes From Today’s Super Regional

UK Athletics

Today was a weird day for the BatCats. The offense looked dead for the first eight innings of a 5-2 loss and they killed most of their rallies with uncharacteristic mistakes. It was a frustrating afternoon at Jim Patterson Stadium, but the season is not over yet. Tomorrow will be UK’s fourth elimination game in the last week, so they are well versed in how important every pitch can be.

Takeaways from today’s press conference

Tomorrow’s matchup should be fun- The Cats will face up against Brendan McKay at the plate and on the mound. McKay will face up against Sean Hjelle on the mound. Coach Mingione said “it’s going to be a very special game” with those two guys going against each other.

The dust-up in the fifth inning- After Drew Ellis pimped a three-run home run the teams had an exchange of words along the first base line. Kole Cottam and Zach Logue both got fired up and had to be pulled back by the home plate umpire. Before anyone could stop him, Riley Mahan was screaming at the Louisville players walking back to the dugout. “Just a bunch of guys competing in the heat of the moment,” Cottam said afterward.

The Cats aren’t scared of an elimination game- The Cats played in three win-or-go-home games in the Regional, and they are in the same spot once again.  “We’re trusting each other and the same thing we’ve done all year,” Cottam said. “Just believe in each other and trust the process.” The three elimination games will play a huge role in how the players look at tomorrow’s game. “One of the biggest things is we have done it before,” Cottam said. “That’s going to help us, motivate us, we know what we have to do. We have to play one inning at a time and one pitch at a time.”

Another great story?- Coach Mingione has said all season that he came to UK to do things that had never been done before. He believes that the next thing to do is to win the next two games and get to Omaha. Coach Mingione said that “we’re going to have to try and do something that’s never been done before tomorrow”. The Cats will be looking to win their first Super Regional game in school history against Louisville.

My takeaways from today

Today was one of the more frustrating and obscure losses in my time covering this team. UK looked dead when they needed big time hits. They made mistakes in the biggest situations and it came back to bite them. By ruining the huge opportunity in the top of the fifth, UK gave Louisville all the momentum in the bottom half. After the bad bunt and caught stealing, UK’s offense did not get anything going until the ninth. The final inning does give fans hope that the team can wake up. Evan White hit a solo home run and Tyler Marshall singled home a run in the waning moments. UK was taking more pitches and creating run scoring opportunities. If the BatCats play tomorrow like they did in the ninth inning, they will be able to score early on McKay and give their pitching staff some room to breathe.

Looking Ahead

The season once again rides on a single game. Hjelle will get the ball for the BatCats as they take on Player of the Year Brendan McKay. Baseball America named McKay the best player in college baseball after he went 9-3 with a 2.31 ERA in 15 starts. He struck out 131 batters in 97.1 innings this season. All of this is in addition to McKay hitting .351 with 17 home runs as the team’s DH. The whole game tomorrow will circle around McKay vs. Hjelle.

How can Kentucky make another comeback?

I wrote a story a week ago about how UK could win three games in two days. The BatCats pulled it off and they can win two games against Louisville. The gameplan should be fairly simple for how UK can win the series. Sean Hjelle will need to dominate tomorrow. Yes, it is easier said than done. But Hjelle will need to attack the top of the order and not put anyone on in front of Drew Ellis and McKay. Louisville won today because of Ellis’ big swing. Hjelle will need to keep the ball in the ballpark if UK wants to win tomorrow.

On the other side of the ball, UK needs to get better at-bats than they did today. Mingione said the team swung at 12 pitches outside of the strike zone in game one. UK’s approach at the plate tightened up in the ninth, so that will need to continue into tomorrow. If the team can make it to Sunday, I would feel good about their circumstances. Justin Lewis and his nasty changeup would be on the mound for UK. Lewis is a competitor that has been lights out in a good portion of his starts this season. He could be the guy that pitches UK into Omaha if they reach that point.


Nick Mingione is Tight-Lipped on How to Beat Brendan McKay

UofL Athletics

Today’s 5-2 loss to Louisville hurt.  Nick Mingione cannot deny it.  “At this point in the year, all the losses hurt a lot.”  But there’s very little time to dwell on the bad.

The Cats did some good things.  After Zack Thompson surrendered two runs in the first inning, Louisville only had two more hits the rest of the game.  The Cats ended the game with hot bats, scoring two in the top of the ninth.  They will need it tomorrow against Brendan McKay.

McKay has already won a few college baseball player of the year awards.  The heavy hitter and ace left-handed pitcher is 9-3 with a 2.31 ERA and allows opponents to hit just .178.  On the other side of the field, Kentucky’s 6’11” SEC Pitcher of the Year Sean Hjelle will do his best to shut down the Cards, creating one of the best pitching duels in all of college baseball.

“It’s going to be a very special game with two high-quality arms,” Mingione said after the game.

When the UK head coach was asked how you can combat McKay’s arm, he refused to give anything away.  “I’m not ready to tell you that.  I’ll tell you after the game.  Is that okay?”

It is okay, but only if it works.


The Large Magnitude of the Kentucky-Louisville Super Regional

Even though Kentucky didn’t get the win, today was an amazing day for baseball in the Bluegrass. In the middle of a work day 6,235 people attended a college baseball game in Kentucky.

“I’m glad we could help with that,” Nick Mingione said with a chuckle about Jim Patterson Stadium’s new attendance record.

The first Super Regional game received the national spotlight, highlighted in the postgame media room.  Aaron Fitt of D1 Baseball has been to plenty of college baseball games, but has never seen anything like this.

“I tried to count the reporters in this UK/UofL presser, lost count at 60. Some people hiding in the back I can’t see,” Fitt Tweeted. “This is bonkers.”

It’s only going to get crazier if Kentucky can force a game three with a win tomorrow.


Cards Beat Cats 5-2 in Game One of the Super Regional

Cards Beat Cats 5-2 in Game One of the Super Regional

UK Athletics

The Kentucky baseball team’s first Super Regional appearance looked completely different from the Bat Cats’ first Regional Championship win.

On Monday Kentucky scored ten runs on just six hits.  Today UofL scored five runs on just four hits.  The Cats rattled N.C. State into submission to start the week.  Today the tables turned after Drew Ellis’ three-run homerun in the bottom of the fifth inning.  Kentucky catcher Kole Cottam was not a fan of Ellis’ celebration and he let him know about it.  The teams had to temporarily be restrained before resuming play.

At the time the Cards had a two-run lead thanks to an obscure rule they had to print out in order to share with the world.  With runners on second and third and one out, Cottam was called for catcher interference on a slow chopper to the short stop.  The umpires initially stopped play to load the bases, but the rule gives UofL an option to accept or decline the penalty.  The opted to decline, bringing in their second run in exchange for an out.

Louisville’s Kade McClure pitched a shutout for five and a third and surrendered just three hits.  Evan White’s lead-off single in the third inning gave the Bat Cats an opportunity, but McClure shut the door by striking out the side.  Their next best opportunity came with two leadoff hits in the fifth.  A botched bunt, a pickoff at second and a strikeout let Louisville leave the inning unscathed.

At least the game ended with some good news for the Cats.  Evan White hit a solo shot to right field to prevent a shutout.  They weren’t done.  The Bat Cats scored another run with a two-out rally off Louisville-native Tyler Marshall’s single.  T.J. Collett pinch-hit as the tying run but struck out swinging to end the game.

Tomorrow SEC Pitcher of the Year Sean Hjelle will take the mound to keep the Kentucky season alive at noon on ESPN.