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Kentucky Drops Home Opener To Xavier 3-2 in Extra Innings

UK Athletics

In the final home opener at Cliff Hagan Stadium, Kentucky was upset by Xavier 3-2 in ten innings. Xavier sent the record-breaking crowd home unhappy as they handed UK their first loss of the season. The Musketeers scored the go-ahead run in the top of the tenth on a sac fly by Natale Monastra.


Before the record-breaking crowd had a chance to settle in, Xavier scored a pair of runs off Kentucky starter Brad Schaenzer. Allbry Major shot a two-out RBI single to center to put the Musketeers in front 2-0 in the first inning.

It took two innings before the BatCats’ offense responded. Trey Dawson and Tristan Pompey delivered singles to lead off the third. After Dawson moved up to third, Ben Aklinski drove him in on a sac fly to left.

After a rough first inning, Brad Schaenzer settled in on the mound. The senior was pulled after five innings, allowing five hits, two runs, and striking out four. Xavier was never able to recoup the offensive success they found in the top of the first. Carson Coleman, Mason Hazelwood, and Jimmy Ramsey combined to throw four shutout innings out of the bullpen.

The bullpen kept the Musketeers quiet while the offense slowly got rolling. T.J Collett roped a line drive home run into the capacity crowd at the Cliff to tie the game at two in the sixth inning. But even with the big hit in the 6th, it felt like UK was leaving a lot on the field. UK left 11 runners on base in the first nine innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. Ryan Johnson and Collett struck out with the sacks full as Xavier staved off a UK rally in the 9th.

Xavier was able to take advantage of UK’s failure to drive in the game-winning run. Joe Gellenbeck doubled and advanced to third on an error with one out in the tenth. Gellenbeck came around to score on a sac fly by Natale Monastra that gave Xavier a 3-2 lead.

After striking out two with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Trey Schramm returned in the tenth to shut down UK. Schramm used a dominating strikeout to retire the side in the tenth and hand UK their first loss of 2018.

Mississippi State hires Gary Henderson as interim baseball coach

Mississippi State hires Gary Henderson as interim baseball coach

It’s been a dramatic morning down in Starkville. Mississippi State baseball coach Andy Cannizaro is out after one season and former UK head coach Gary Henderson is in as interim head coach. Henderson was Kentucky’s coach for eight seasons before resigning in 2016 and taking the job as Mississippi State’s pitching coach.

That’s great for Henderson, but way more interesting is what happened with Cannizaro. Last night, reports came out that Mississippi State had fired him, and this morning, the school released a statement saying he had resigned with this cryptic quote:

“I had a wonderful opportunity at Mississippi State, but unfortunately I made some poor decisions,” Cannizaro said. “I hope Mississippi State University and all of the fans and people affected will one day forgive me.”

Hmm. Kentucky will host Mississippi State May 11-13, meaning that unless the “Diamond Dogs” find a new head coach, it will be Henderson vs. Nick Mingione, who was an assistant at Mississippi State for seven years.

[Mississippi State Athletics]

GAMEDAY: Basketball at Arkansas and Baseball’s Home-Opener at The Cliff

GAMEDAY: Basketball at Arkansas and Baseball’s Home-Opener at The Cliff

Cats are Road Underdogs

The BBN is still riding high after the streak-snapping home win vs. Alabama.  That could all change tonight when Kentucky enters a sold out Bud Walton Arena.

The Cats are 3.5-point underdogs and only have a 34 percent chance to win according to ESPN’s BPI.  They will face a red hot Arkansas team that has won four in a row.  Their most recent victory was a 94-75 beat-down of Texas A&M at home last Saturday.

Bud Walton is never an easy place to play.  This year the Razorbacks are 14-1 at home.  Kentucky is just 7-7 in the all-time series at Bud Walton, but the Cats have won five straight over Arkansas, dating back to that stupid 2014 Michael Qualls overtime tip-dunk.

The Last Time Kentucky Played Arkansas

It got ugly in the final two minutes of the 2017 SEC Championship.  After Malik Monk took it to his home state school with 17 points, the Razorbacks couldn’t handle the embarrassment.  Dusty Hannahs threw a nasty elbow and Moses Kingsley brought a tomahawk down on De’Aaron Fox’s face in the final 1:25 (you can watch below) to leave an ugly blemish on the championship game.

The game ended with a final score 82-65 as fans chanted “M-V-P” for Kentucky’s Dominique Hawkins.  Watch the fun highlights here.

TV, Radio, Vegas

TV — The final late night 9:00 tip-off of the year on ESPN with Joe Tessitore, Sean Farnham and Laura Rutledge. on the call.

Radio — KSR Pregame Show on 630 WLAP at 6:30. Hear Leach and Pratt on the UK Sports Network, Sirius-137 and XM-190.

Vegas — Arkansas -3.5

Today’s Tale of the Tape

First Pitch at The Cliff

The 50th and final season at Cliff Hagan Stadium beings tonight at 6:00 on UK’s campus.  Kentucky moved up the game one day trade off rainy weather for a breezy 75 degrees. Arrive early to see a few special first pitches to start UK’s home season.

The eighth-ranked Bat Cats’ game against Xavier should wrap up just in time to see Kentucky take on Arkansas.  To prepare for the game, listen to the latest KSR Baseball Podcast, or bump to this year’s walkout music.

Hear from Fox

De’Aaron Fox believes the Cats were destined to win No. 9, until Luke Maye ended Kentucky’s 2017 run to the Final Four.  The former Kentucky point guard joined The Aaron Torres Sports Podcast to talk about the way his Kentucky career ended, what he misses most about college, how it prepared him for the NBA and much more.

Happy Birthday Little Bro

I don’t know about you, but Nathan’s looking 22.  Happy Birthday young fella.  I’d normally take this opportunity to burn you through the blog, but your coach has already taken that liberty on Twitter.

The KSR Baseball Podcast E21: Week One

Week one of the 2018 Kentucky baseball season is in the books.  Trey Huntsman and Coach Keith Madison are here to talk about Kentucky’s 4-0 start to the season and the upcoming home-opener for the final season at The Cliff.  Highlights:

—  Tristan Pompey had an impressive start to the season.

—  How the bullpen help UK’s starting pitching.

—  Who had the best start to the season?

—  What they want to see vs. Xavier, which will now be played on Tuesday.

—  Coach Madison gives Trey a Geography lesson before he embarks for class.

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 Baseball home opener moved up to Tuesday

Important scheduling news! Due to rain in the forecast, UK Baseball has moved its home opener up from Wednesday to TUESDAY. The Bat Cats will now play Xavier tomorrow at 6 p.m. at The Cliff.

Kentucky is 4-0 to start the season after wins over Wofford, USC Upstate and Evansville in Spartanburg, South Carolina this weekend. This is the first time UK has started the season 4-0 on the road since 2007.

Tickets for Wednesday’s game will be valid on Tuesday. If you can’t make it to The Cliff, you can listen to the game on 98.5 FM in Lexington and or watch online via SEC Network+.

UK Athletics

Baseball Notebook: The BatCats Start 4-0

Kentucky Athletics (SEC Sports)

Ask any coach, the first weekend of the season rarely has an effect on where a team will finish in June. But Nick Mingione and Kentucky will obviously be a lot happier with this year’s start over last year’s. One year after starting 0-4, the BatCats began 2018 4-0 with an opening weekend sweep in South Carolina. The sweep included wins over Wofford, USC Upstate, and Evansville in a round-robin style series. The BatCats got big outings on the mound from Sean Hjelle, Justin Lewis, and Daniel Harper. The strong pitching performances helped UK to outscore their opponents 30-14 this weekend. The undefeated weekend was UK’s first 4-0 start since 2012.

Game Recaps

Kentucky 6 Wofford 1

Nick Mingione won his first season opener with a fundamentally sound victory over Wofford on Friday. Sean Hjelle threw six shutout innings while the offense scored runs in four consecutive innings. In the first four innings, Luke Heyer, Tristan Pompey, and Luke Becker all hit their first home runs of 2018. Carson Coleman and Alec Maley combined for eight strikeouts in three innings to close out the final three innings of a season-opening win. The 6-1 win was UK’s first opening day win since 2015.

Kentucky 6 USC Upstate 5

Before UK could blink, they were down 5-0 against USCU. The dreary Saturday afternoon weather in Spartanburg might have played a factor in a sluggish start for Zack Thompson and UK. Thompson was pulled after allowing five runs thru 2.2 innings on Saturday. Luckily for Thompson, his bullpen and offense picked him up over the next 7.1 innings. After picking up a pair of unearned runs in the sixth, UK trailed by three when Ben Aklinski ripped a solo home run to get the Cats within two in the 7th. While the bullpen kept the Spartans quiet, UK’s offense completed the comeback. T.J Collett and Kole Cottam drove in runs to tie the game in the 8th. After a scoreless 9th, the game headed to extras. Luke Becker led off the tenth with a double and Kole Cottam singled him home to give UK a 6-5 lead. Chris Machamer finished off the Spartans with a scoreless bottom of the tenth.

Chris Machamer came out of the bullpen to shut down USC Upstate on Saturday. (UK Athletics)

Kentucky 10 USC Upstate 3

Life was a beach and Kentucky was just playing in the sand on Saturday night. 35 minutes removed from an extra-inning win over the Spartans, the Cats started game two of the doubleheader. Justin Lewis was electric in six innings of shutout baseball. After turning down the Tampa Bay Rays offer, Lewis returned to UK for 2018. The redshirt junior struck out nine Spartans and allowed only two baserunners in his season debut. Lewis left the game with seven runs of support from his offense. The Cats scored two in the second and four in the sixth before the middle of their lineup started pushing balls over the fence in the 8th. Luke Becker and T.J Collett hit home runs in the three-run eighth as UK polished off a 10-3 win.

Kentucky 8 Evansville 4

Regardless of your opponent, making your collegiate debut is difficult. Freshman pitcher Daniel Harper made his inaugural start look easy in Sunday’s win over Evansville. The Kansas-native allowed two runs (one earned) while striking out eight in four innings against the Aces. Harper wiggled out of a couple early jams as Evansville went 0/4 with runners in scoring position against Harper. While the Aces struggled to bring runners in, UK was lighting up the scoreboard. Tristan Pompey went 4/4 with three runs and Ryan Johnson collected three RBIs on a bases-clearing double in the third. The Cats led 8-2 after six before Evansville attempted a late comeback in the eight. The Aces scored two runs and looked ready for more, but Maley slammed the door by recording two outs on three pitches. Evansville could not rally in the 9th and UK wrapped up their first 4-0 start since 2012.



Kentucky’s Bullpen Answers Questions

No Logan Salow or Zach Pop? No problem. UK’s bullpen showed that they have a bevy of talent in 2018 to replace Salow and Pop. The Cats got 11.1 consecutive innings of shutout work from their pen to open their season. The biggest performance came on Saturday afternoon when the bullpen pitched 7.1 innings of scoreless to pick up Zack Thompson who was chased early. Brad Schaenzer, Jimmy Ramsey, and Chris Machamer combined to allow five hits and to strike out seven as their offense crawled back from a 5-0 deficit to win. It remains to be seen which guys will be consistent throughout 2018, but the opening weekend showed that Jimmy Belanger’s bullpen will still have guys that can finish games.

UK Athletics

Tristan Pompey is an OBP Machine

The “Lav Sav” has picked up where he left off in 2017. After reaching base in every game this weekend, Pompey has reached base in 41 straight games dating back to last season. Pompey went 4/4 on Sunday and is already hitting .470 with three doubles and six runs scored. It has been a lot of fun watching Pompey grow into what he is today. This weekend showed that there has been no dropoff since 2017. He had great plate appearances and reached base 11 times (four extra-base hits) at the leadoff position this weekend.

Luke Heyer and Ben Aklinski Make Loud 2018 Debuts

There has been so much attention on Pompey (for good reason), that centerfielder Ben Aklinski flew under the radar in the preseason. The speedy, athletic JUCO transfer hit .411 in four games this weekend. Aklinski collected his first career home run this weekend from the three spot in the lineup, and he also stole a base and scored three runs. Luke Heyer showed promise off the bench last season, but he has taken over as the starting third baseman in 2018. Yet another JUCO transfer from the class of 2016, Heyer hit two home runs this weekend and drove in six runs in four games in South Carolina.

The Week Ahead

Kentucky will have two days off to start the week before their home opener on Wednesday. Defending Big East Champions Xavier will come into Lexington for a 4 ET first pitch at the Cliff. The Musketeers are once again near the top in the Big East, so this game will be a good test for the young Cats. Next weekend, UK will host Oakland for a three-game series in Lexington.


Lewis Leads Kentucky To 10-3 Win Over USC Upstate

UK Athletics

Eight months ago, it appeared that newly-drafted Justin Lewis had pitched in his last game for Kentucky. Flash forward to today, where Lewis’ dominance on the mound helped UK win 10-3 over USC Upstate to sweep Saturday’s doubleheader. The redshirt junior pitcher went six shutout innings, allowing just two hits and no walks while striking out nine in a blowout win for the Cats.

As Lewis paced UK’s effort on the mound, the Wildcats’ offense got rolling early. After needing six unanswered runs to overcome a five-run deficit in game one, UK flipped the script in game two. The Cats’ offense blistered USC Upstate early and often on Saturday night.

Ryan Shinn and Trey Dawson collected back-to-back RBI doubles in the second inning to give UK a 2-0 lead on Upstate’s Trey Van Der Wierde. UK would score a third run against Van Der Wierde in the fourth inning when Tristan Pompey drove in a run on a groundout to the shortstop.

UK did not truly break through until Upstate went to their bullpen in the sixth inning. After loading the bases, UK scored four straight runs to blow the game wide open. Kole Cottam picked up two RBIs in the inning as the Cats watched their lead swell to seven.

The offense provided Lewis with more than enough run support against USCU. Lewis allowed just two runners to reach scoring position in six dazzling innings on the mound. The Georgia-native was pulled after the sixth inning, but his return to the mound was impactful. Lewis showed good command of all his pitches as he struck out nine and walked none in his 2018 debut.

Both UK and USCU would add three runs to the scoreboard in the final two innings. Luke Becker and T.J Collett smacked home runs in the top of the eighth before Upstate answered back with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. The three runs allowed by the UK bullpen were the first of 2018. Trip Lockhart came on for UK and closed out a 10-3 win.

The bullpen struggled late, but Lewis’ 2018 debut and a late-inning offensive outburst were enough to push the Cats to their first 3-0 start since 2015.  Kentucky will finish their trip to Spartanburg with an 11 ET first pitch tomorrow morning against Evansville. 98.5 in Lexington will have the broadcast and @TreyHuntsmanKSR will have live tweets. 



UK Athletics

Kentucky Puts Their Best Foot Forward On Opening Day

UK Athletics

Nick Mingione wants to do things at Kentucky that have never been done before. The second-year coach did just that on Friday when he led his team to their first season-opening win under his leadership with a 6-1 win over Wofford. Luke Heyer, Kole Cottam, and Tristan Pompey all hit home runs as the Cats won their first opening game since 2015.

The SEC’s leader in hitting last season, UK wasted no time putting up a crooked number against starting pitcher Adam Scott. After Kole Cottam and Troy Squires reached base in the second, senior Luke Heyer launched a three-run home run to give UK their first runs of 2018.

While the UK offense was rolling, junior pitcher Sean Hjelle was settling in on the mound. The reigning SEC Pitcher of the Year retired the first nine batters of the game. Hjelle showed mastery of his three pitches early. Wofford did not manage a base hit until the fourth inning against Hjelle.

The BatCats kept their foot on the gas early. Tristan Pompey and Cottam launched home runs in the third and fourth innings respectively Scott had issues keeping the ball in the park. Ben Aklinski added an RBI single in the sixth as UK scored in four straight innings to build a 6-0 lead over Wofford.


Wofford could never find consistent success on offense against UK’s staff. Mack Nathanson delivered both of the Terriers’ base hits on Friday, including a double to score their only run of the game in the sixth inning.

Opening Day is all about putting your best foot forward. UK’s pitching staff did just that. Hjelle cruised thru six innings of one-run ball to pick up his first win of the season. The junior pitcher allowed one run on two hits while striking out three on 83 pitches. With this being the first start of 2018, Mingione pulled Hjelle after the sixth inning to preserve his arm early this season.

After Hjelle’s solid start, the UK bullpen finished the job with three dominant innings. Redshirt freshman Carson Coleman struck out five in two innings of work in his collegiate debut before senior Alec Maley struck out the side in the ninth to finish off a 6-1 win over Wofford.

An Opening Day win is not a definite marker for a successful season. But it can be used to set the tone early in a season. We will see if the momentum carries over when Kentucky returns to action tomorrow in a doubleheader against USC Upstate. The first game will be at 1 ET with game two following at 5. Both games will be broadcast on the USC Upstate Facebook Live.


The KSR Baseball Podcast E20: First Pitch

Baseball season is finally here.  It’s time for the first pitch of the 2018 UK baseball season and Trey Huntsman is here to celebrate with Coach Keith Madison and former Big Leaguer Austin Kearns.  Highlights:

—  What Nick Mingione’s second season has in store.

—  What Coach Madison misses most this time of year.

—  Who’s going to be the breakout player of the year?

—  The weird and wild MLB free agency season.

—  Austin’s advice to kids who have big baseball aspirations.

—  What Austin’s most looking forward to in the 2018 UK baseball season.

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.

Five Kentucky Baseball Names You Need to Remember

Photo by UK Athletics

The first pitch of the Kentucky baseball season will be thrown today at 5:00 in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  Two wins away from the College World Series in 2017, here are five players who could carry Kentucky to Omaha in Nick Mingione’s second season at Kentucky.

Sean Hjelle

In 2017 the 6’11” right-handed pitcher became the first ever Wildcat to win SEC Pitcher of the Year.  The Cats’ closer successfully moved into the starting rotation and brought home 11 wins, the fourth-most ever in a UK season.  The Preseason All-American will get the start tonight wearing this incredibly large size 17 shoe.


Justin Lewis

The 6’7″ right-handed pitcher turned down a six-figure MLB signing bonus to return for one more year at Kentucky.  Lewis has a 3.19 ERA through two years, the sixth-best career ERA in school history.  Last year he was just six outs away from a perfect game.

Hjelle, Lewis and lefty Zack Thompson create Kentucky’s three-headed starting pitching monster that could be the best in all of college baseball.

Alex Rodriguez


No, not that A-Rod.  Kentucky’s A-Rod is a JUCO transfer that should make some noise in his first year at UK playing a variety of positions in the infield as a defensive specialist.  The season-opener is also A-Rod’s Birthday.

Kole Cottam

A catcher who could also be asked to replace Evan White as UK’s first baseman absolutely crushed the ball last year.  Cottam hit .319, slugged .505, hit 7 dingers and drove in 44 runs.

Kentucky has a lot of guys who can hit the ball hard, but few are more clutch than Cottam.  In three Regional elimination games he went 5-for-11 with a double, triple, home run, four runs and six RBIs, including the go-ahead two-run double in the final game against N.C. State.  He’s poised for an excellent 2018 season.

Tristan Pompey

If you watch just one Kentucky baseball game, Tristan Pompey will probably become your favorite player.  An elite athlete, he makes plays all over the outfield.  When it’s his time to enter the batters box, he can do just about anything from either side of the plate.  He can bunt a single or blast a grand slam.  Pompey has rare athleticism and versatility, and that’s why he’s a preseason All-American.

Today on KSR: The Boys are Back in Town and Baseball Season Begins

Today on KSR: The Boys are Back in Town and Baseball Season Begins


NBA All-Star weekend begins tonight.  If the Cats aren’t participating in the events or on a tropical vacation, they’re probably hanging out in Lexington.  The first two to stop by were Bam Adebayo and Willie Cauley-Stein.  They will not be the last.

Cauley-Stein’s Sacramento point guard will probably not make it back to campus because tonight De’Aaron Fox is filling in for Lonzo Ball in the Rising Stars Challenge.  He’ll square up against the World Team that features Jamal Murray at 9:00 on TNT.

Coach Cal Previews Alabama

Before Alabama comes to town, John Calipari will be back at the podium to talk about the game this afternoon around 2:15.  There’s a lot on the line tomorrow, but I have a feeling Calipari will not deviate from the composed tone he’s kept throughout Kentucky’s four-game losing streak.

Play Ball!

Nick Mingione’s eighth-ranked UK baseball team starts the season today in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  The Bat Cats will open a four-game weekend with Wofford this evening at 5:00.  They’ll take on USC-Upstate in a double-header beginning at 1:00 tomorrow.  If the weather holds out, they’ll finish the weekend Sunday at 11:00 a.m. vs. Evansville.

Before it begins, Coach Keith Madison and Trey Huntsman have one more KSR Baseball Podcast.  Trey will have everything you need to know about the Bat Cats throughout the weekend right here on KSR.

Senior Night for Tyler Herro

The UK signee will play in his final home high school basketball game tonight.  Before he concludes his high school career, he is leaving a Kentucky blue mark on the Wisconsin court.


Don’t forget to vote for Herro to participate in this year’s High School 3-Point Championship.

UK is at the Winter Olympics

Former Kentucky Track and Field All-American Simidele Adeagbo will begin her quest for gold today in Pyeongchang.  The runner who picked up skeleton not long ago will make her first run at the sliding center this morning.  Watch the Nigerian athlete on NBCSN between 9:30-10:30.  For more on Adeabago’s story, watch her interview with Mary Jo Perino on Hey Kentucky.

Tonight in NBC’s primetime coverage you’ll see a little bit of skeleton, along with figure skating and alpine skiing.  See the complete TV listings here.

Tony Delk is Marshall County Strong

The former Kentucky All-American went to Western Kentucky to support those affected by the tragic school shooting.  Delk took the time to speak to the school’s FCA students and contribute to the Marshall County Strong Fund.

Courtney Love Picks Up Hardware

The Kentucky middle linebacker is in Destin, Florida tonight to cap off his ride as the Wuerfful Trophy Winner.  He posed with his family and the new trophy at last night’s welcome dinner.


Das Boot

Chance Poore is putting in work.  UK’s future kicker was letting them fly yesterday.  This one looks to be from about 45 yards, but it’d be good for at least ten more yards.

KSR is in Springfield

Drew Franklin will make his triumphant return to the Commonwealth and he will do it with Ryan Lemond, Shannon the Dude and Matt Jones in Springfield, Kentucky.  You don’t want to miss it.

Getty Images

Kole Cottam Looks to Break Out in 2018

Getty Images

It may seem strange to talk about a guy who hit .319 in 2017 as a potential breakout candidate, but 2018 very well could be the year of Kole Cottam.

The uber-talented junior catcher from Knoxville made great strides in his approach at the plate during his sophomore season. Cottam’s on-base percentage rose 43 points while his strikeout to walk ratio dropped. His home run total rose from one as a freshman to seven as a sophomore. After UK’s season concluded, Cottam continued to hit well in the wood-bat Cape Cod League where he hit .277 in 20 games.

“I ended up last year doing pretty well, and I tried to build on that,” Cottam said. “I just tried to take what I learned in the back half of last year and the summer and early fall and keep going forward and make some improvements on the field in the spring.”

At 6’3” 225, Cottam is perhaps the strongest player on the team, and he uses that strength to spray the ball to all fields. UK will need Cottam’s prowess at the plate in 2018 as they try to replace the likes of Evan White, Riley Mahan, and Marcus Carson in the heart of the lineup. Those around the program expect Cottam to carry a lot of weight at the plate this season.

“Kole Cottam is a guy that’s much improved, and from all areas of his game, from mentally, physically, the way he carries himself, all of that is better,” Nick Mingione said at Media Day. “I look for him to have a very, very special year for us.”


Cottam showed his feel at the plate in the back half of 2017. After collecting five hits in three games in the SEC Tournament, Cottam went 5/11 in elimination games in the Lexington Regional. The biggest of those five hits came in the Regional Championship against NC State. Tied at five in the seventh inning, Cottam ripped a two-run double off the right-field wall to send UK to their first Super Regional. Cottam’s double was arguably the biggest in school history, but the junior is looking forward to 2018.

“It does motivate me a lot to try to pick up where I left off,” Cottam said. “I’ll always think about that, but that’s something I got to put behind me and hopefully have a few more this year.”

Cottam is one of only three returning players that appeared in more than 50 games last year. UK lost 69 percent of their offensive starts after last year, but Cottam believes that both he and the offense will pick up where they left off in 2017.  “I think we can do something special,” Cottam said. “Just like last year, there’s a lot of question marks in the beginning, but I think we’re really going to shore that up and show everybody the offense we have and that production that we can make.”

The KSR Baseball Podcast E19: UK Media Day

Trey Huntsman is back with Coach Keith Madison to talk about what he heard from Nick Mingione and the rest of the Bat Cats at UK baseball media day.  The two also take a look around the SEC, and…

—  Is Nick Mingione ever not positive?

—  How UK will fill first base in Evan White’s absence.

—  Mingione is rolling the dice with JUCOs; Coach Madison shares his experience with JUCO players.

—  The Bat Cats’ goals for the season and what their lineup might look like.

—  Who Coach Madison believes are the best teams in the SEC.

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.

Photo by Guy Ramsey, UK Athletics

Takeaways From UK Baseball Media Day

Photo by Guy Ramsey, UK Athletics

If you can believe it, Kentucky Baseball Head Coach Nick Mingione was exuberant about the season beginning next week. “Every single poll so far has us number eight. Number eight: We’re eight days away from our season, I wore number eight in college, eight teams go to Omaha,” Mingione said with a smile at Thursday’s Media Day. Along with Mingione, returning players Tristan Pompey, Sean Hjelle, Justin Lewis, Troy Squires, and Kole Cottam were all available to the media. Much like last season, there is a buzz in the air that this team has the ability to do something special. Here are the big takeaways from today’s media day.

Season tickets are sold out for 2018

In my time covering the team, there has not been this level of attention given to the UK Baseball team. Mingione said on Thursday that the season ticket allotment was officially sold out for 2018. This year is the 50th and final year at Cliff Hagan Stadium before the team moves into a new stadium this fall. By the number of tickets sold, it appears that UK fans want to send the stadium out on a good note.

Kentucky looks to reload on offense

Last year’s team was loaded with experienced hitters up and down the lineup. Mingione and company will have to fill a variety of roles in 2018, but the second year coach does not seem worried. “We lost our everyday first baseman, second baseman, shortstop, third baseman, left field, and center field, but we’re excited,” Mingione said. As expected, senior Luke Becker will replace Riley Mahan at second base with senior Luke Heyer taking over at third base. Mingione said that if the season started today that transfer Trey Dawson would start at shortstop. In the outfield, Ryan Johnson, Ben Aklinski, Ryan Shinn, and Cam Hill will all see time along with junior Tristan Pompey.

“If you had to break those numbers down, it’s 69 percent of all of our starts. 61 percent of our at-bats, 59 percent of our runs, 62 percent of our hits, 63 percent of our doubles, 90 percent of our triples, 60 percent of our home runs, 59 percent of our RBIs, and 57 percent of our walks, but I promise we’ll still be good offensively.”

TJ Collett is hitting better than anyone on this team

No player in UK’s lineup has the amount of power as TJ Collett. He showed that game-changing power when he stroked a grand slam against Ole Miss over the scoreboard at the Cliff last season for his first career hit. Collett struggled in 2017 to make routine contact after tearing his ACL in the fall. According to Mingione, Collett has seen immense improvement over the last eight months. “He’s taking as good a swings as anybody right now,” Mingione said. According to Mingione, Collett is also one of the team’s leaders in hitting this preseason.

UK Athletics

It’s going to be the year of Kole Cottam

Fans saw last summer the potential that junior Kole Cottam has at the plate. He hit the go-ahead double in last year’s regional final before finishing the season with a .319 batting average. In 2018, Cottam will see time at first base and behind the plate at catcher while anchoring the lineup. “Kole Cottam is a guy that’s much improved, and from all areas of his game, from mentally, physically, the way he carries himself, all of that is better,” Mingione said.

Cottam will also step up and fill one of the leadership roles left by Evan White and Riley Mahan. “Evan was such a phenomenal leader, so was Riley, but everybody’s a leader on our team,” Cottam said. “I try to do everything I can on and off the field to be the leader our team needs.” 


Mingione goes the JUCO route

Replacing 62 percent of your team’s hits is never an easy task. To reload the offense, UK’s coaching staff went the JUCO route to fill in their lineup. UK is expected to start at least three JUCO transfers each game with John, Aklinski, and Dawson.

Working on defense 

One of the first topics Mingione covered this morning was his team’s defense. Last year, UK was third in the SEC in errors and tenth in fielding percentage. Mingione believes that progress on defense would be committing 16 fewer errors.

“You know how much I love offense, but it’s all about pitching and defense, and when you look at the two teams that played for the national championship last year, Florida and LSU, two teams from our league, they also led in defense.”

We will have more from media day this weekend on KSR and on the KSR Baseball Podcast tomorrow.




Kentucky Baseball Sells Out Season Tickets

Kentucky Baseball Sells Out Season Tickets

UK Athletics

For the first time in program history, the Kentucky baseball team’s season tickets are sold out.

Riding a way of momentum following Nick Mingione’s first season as head coach, today at UK baseball media day he announced the final season at The Cliff will be filled with season ticket holders.  “Our season tickets are sold out for the very first time,” UK head coach Nick Mingione said. “Why did that happen? Because the Big Blue Nation is awesome, that’s why.”

The No. 8 Bat Cats will begin the season next Friday in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  The first game at The Cliff is Wednesday February 21 against Xavier.

Trey Huntsman will have more from UK Baseball Media Day later today.