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By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 05th, 2017 @ 1:30pm
How big is tonight’s game between Kentucky and NC State? John Calipari is cutting his vacation short so he can be in the stands at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
“Okay, #BBN, I’m leaving vacation early to see UK Baseball battle!” Cal tweeted a few minutes ago. “Rain or shine, let’s pack this place!!! LET’S DO THIS!!! #PackTheCliff”
Last week, Calipari recorded this pep talk for Nick Mingione and his team during a break at the SEC Spring Meetings:
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) May 31, 2017
Another good omen for tonight: Marlana VanHoose is singing the national anthem. As we’ve learned over the years, no one does the anthem justice like Little Marlana. Obligatory Marlana anthem video:
To secure your ticket for tonight’s game (which will only be shown on ESPN3/WatchESPN), click here. Go get ’em, Bat Cats.
The BatCats battled for 18 long innings on Sunday and came away with two wins in elimination games. Kentucky and NC State will meet for the third time tonight at 7 ET to determine who plays Louisville next weekend in the Super Regional. Before we get set for tonight’s game, here is a look back at the yesterday’s doubleheader sweep for the Cats.
Kentucky’s Offense Woke Up Against Indiana
UK poured it on Indiana to move out of the loser’s bracket. The Cats reached base 25 times and scored 14 runs against a tired Indiana team. Marcus Carson, Kole Cottam, and Riley Mahan all hit home runs as UK’s offense began to capitalize in big time moments. Mahan’s home run was a grand slam that was effectively the dagger in the Sunday afternoon game. Kentucky went 8/14 with runners in scoring position and 12/21 with runners on base against Indiana after leaving a combined 24 men on base in the first two regional games. The offense really needed a game like this to start a streak as it gave them some confidence moving into the night game.
Kentucky Fought Off Elimination Twice
After the win over Indiana, UK had to come back and play less than two hours later against NC State. The Pack jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but the Cats’ offense woke up once again. After tying the game in the third, Marcus Carson gave UK their first lead of the night with a solo home run. Mahan added a RBI single in the fifth before UK scored four in the sixth to take an 8-2 lead. The big sixth inning was evidence of how hard UK had fought to stay in this tournament. Zach Reks and Mahan both drove in runs with singles to start the onslaught. Luke Becker dug out an infield single with two outs and Kole Cottam came around to score on a wild pitch as UK added four runs in a hurry. The gritty performance in the sixth inning helped UK to pull away in an 8-6 win.
Mahan- “If today doesn’t define Kentucky Baseball to you, then you need to take another look at this team”
— Trey Huntsman (@TreyHuntsmanKSR) June 5, 2017
Mingione Handles The Bullpen Well On Sunday
Sean Hjelle and Justin Lewis both had high pitch counts in the first two games, so the bullpen needed to step up if the Cats were going to have a chance to win three games in two days. Zack Thompson went seven innings against Indiana to save as much of the bullpen as possible for Sunday night. Thompson was electric as always against the Hoosiers. The freshman struck out seven in his postseason debut. After Thompson, Colton Cleary and Alec Maley managed to record the final six outs of the game despite Cleary allowing five runs in the ninth. In the second game, Brad Schaenzer went the first four innings before handing the ball to Chris Machamer. Schaenzer didn’t have his best stuff, but he saved UK a few innings out of their bullpen. Machamer went 2.1 innings but a Joe Dunand home run chased the freshman in the seventh. Logan Salow was brilliant in the final 2.2 innings. The senior closer struck out four and did not allow a hit as he slammed the door on the Pack.
“Get ready for chaos. Get ready for the most messed up bullpen situation you can possibly think of,” Mingione said about tonight’s game.
Mingione will have a full, semi-rested bullpen on Monday night. He noted in the press conference that everyone will be available except Zack Thompson. If I had to make an educated guess on how the pitching situation will go tomorrow, I would say Logue for three innings, Machamer for two, and then Salow for as long as he can go. If things get interesting, Hjelle should be available for an inning or two.
Mingione Gets Emotional In the Postgame Press Conference
After the media asked the players questions, Coach Mingione asked for a moment to speak on Carson. He got choked up talking about the student, the person, and the player that Carson has developed into this year. (Top video by Joe Mussatto on Twitter)
Nick Mingione gets emotional in speech about senior CF Marcus Carson. pic.twitter.com/5m3HhGiZ5Z
— Joe Mussatto (@joe_mussatto) June 5, 2017
Here’s a portion of Mingione’s opening statement. pic.twitter.com/CJDuLEYMOH
— Trey Huntsman (@TreyHuntsmanKSR) June 5, 2017
Riley Mahan Is Playing Outside Of His Head
The junior second baseman has stepped up in a big way in the regional. Mahan has driven in 11 runs and hit two home runs in only four games. His defense has been pretty solid and he has made some nice throws on the run. “Our offense all year has been relentless, I’m just so proud of these guys, the way they battled,” Mahan said.
Kole Cottam Is Kentucky’s Hottest Hitter
After a great showing in Hoover, Cottam has carried over his hot hitting to the regional. Cottam is now 15 of his last 30 at the plate and has collected a hit in nine straight games.
The BBN Was Heard Tonight
As Mingione said in the press conference, over 18,000 people have come to see this team play in the regional. The fans at the Cliff were loud and proud last night.
CATS WIN pic.twitter.com/wKpjCqRao4
— Trey Huntsman (@TreyHuntsmanKSR) June 5, 2017
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 05th, 2017 @ 11:14am
Need another reason to head down to The Cliff for tonight’s Kentucky/NC State game? We just found out that the game will only be streamed on ESPN3/WatchESPN, not televised on one of ESPN’s many channels, which is a bummer, but more incentive to get down there and cheer the Bat Cats on in person. The game will start at 7 p.m.
Coach Mingione is slated to come on KSR here in about 15 minutes, so tune in. I’ll have the clip on the site later today in case you miss it.
Greetings, friends. Long time no type. I’m back from my two-week adventure in Italy, during which I ate lots of pasta, drank lots of wine, and generally did my best to forget about UK Sports for a while…until Ryan Lemond’s creepy laugh woke me up one night to tell me Hamidou Diallo was coming back to school. (As you might imagine, going back to sleep after that was impossible.) I’ll share bits and pieces from my trip over the next week, but right now, a much more important matter is upon us: Game Four of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Being abroad when the Nashville Predators won the Western Conference Finals was tough, as was getting home just in time to witness their humiliating loss in Game Two; that’s why Saturday’s 5-1 win was so sweet. I’ve lived in Nashville for 11 years now, and I’ve never witnessed a more amazing day in the city. Over 50,000 fans flooded the streets downtown, forcing police to close down two additional blocks of Broadway all the way to the river. For once, there were more locals than tourists downtown as Preds fans pushed out bachelorette parties and staked their claim to hear Alan Jackson’s free concert and swap guesses as to who will sing the national anthem (Martina McBride) and how many catfish would hit the ice (by my count, three). The Preds responded, turning in a crucial 5-1 win to move the series to 2-1. Even though it’s a Monday, I expect the atmosphere will be equally as rabid leading up to an essential Game Four. I got my fill of the chaos downtown on Saturday, but will be cheering from my lucky seat here in East Nashville. Join me at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports. We got this.
In the meantime, here’s what we’ll be talking about today:
1. UK Baseball will play NC State for a spot in the Super Regional tonight
The Bat Cats got back on track in the Lexington regional with two huge wins yesterday, the first over Indiana and the second over NC State to force a final showdown with the Wolfpack tonight. The winner will advance to the Super Regional in Louisville to face the Cardinals. The game starts at 7 p.m. at The Cliff, and while you should do absolutely everything you can to be there to cheer them on in person, it should be televised, although the channel has yet to be determined. We’ll keep you updated.
2. Coach Mingione got a little emotional in the postgame presser
How much would a spot in the Super Regionals mean to this program and its players? Nick Mingione teared up when talking about his senior centerfielder Marcus Carson last night:
Nick Mingione gets emotional in speech about senior CF Marcus Carson. pic.twitter.com/5m3HhGiZ5Z
— Joe Mussatto (@joe_mussatto) June 5, 2017
How can you not love Mingione? Speaking of baseball…
3. How about my Davidson Wildcats?
My other Wildcats knocked off 2-seed North Carolina last night to win the Chapel Hill Regional in what D1 Baseball’s Aaron Fitt called one of the biggest upsets in college baseball history. Between the Preds winning Saturday, both sets of Wildcats winning Sunday, and Steph Curry doing his thing in the NBA Finals, it was certainly a great weekend to be a Wildcat. Watch the awesome winning moment below:
CELEBRATE LIKE YOU’VE NEVER CELEBRATED BEFORE!!
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 5, 2017
4. Calipari was in NYC this weekend
After stops in Destin for the SEC Spring Meetings and Pittsburgh for Game Two of the Stanley Cup Finals, Calipari was in NYC this weekend to take his son Brad to a Mets/Pirates game:
Brad and I watching the Mets and our Bucs!!! Clint's the BEST! pic.twitter.com/qT2JVpHajU
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) June 4, 2017
Something tells me Cal will be back in Pittsburgh for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals Thursday night.
5. 17 Days until the NBA Draft
Believe it or not, there are only 17 days until the NBA Draft in New York, and while I was gone, it seems buzz continued to grow around De’Aaron Fox. Fox impressed at the Catalyst Sports Pro Day this weekend, prompting some to suggest that the Lakers may pass on Lonzo Ball and take Fox instead with the second pick. We saw this as the season went on, but Fox’s shooting continues to improve, as you can see in this video from his Pro Day workout via Draft Express:
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) June 3, 2017
After the workout was over, Fox was back in the weight room to put in more work:
— Cy Lakes Basketball (@CyLakeshoops) June 4, 2017
Make the right choice, Magic.
6. I had the best risotto in the world in Burano
Should you ever find yourself in Venice, Italy and overwhelmed by the crowds, do yourself a favor and hop on the ferry to Burano, a small fishing island about 40 minutes outside the city. Known for lace and brightly painted buildings, Burano is an amazing oasis, made even more so by the seafood risotto at Da Romano. My husband and I first heard about the dish on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations,” and made the trek solely to try it; we were not disappointed. Prepared delicately with “go,” a local fish, it was simply perfection, especially when paired with the house white wine and this view:
Sigh. Before I hop on a plane back to Venice, let’s keep going.
7. The Governor’s Cup Luncheon is tomorrow
For some reason, the Governor’s Cup luncheon is still held in June even though the rivalry showdown takes place in November, but alas, this year’s version takes place tomorrow afternoon at the Frankfort County Club. That means awkward photo opps between Mark Stoops and Bobby Petrino, plenty of pictures of the trophy, and hopefully a little bit of swaggy trash talk. Usually, this event is a bore, but it sure is nice to come in as the winner after last season’s upset for the ages.
8. The UK Football Women’s Clinic is set for July 22
Period jokes aside, last year’s women’s clinic was a great way to get ready for football season, and from what I hear, the folks at UK have even more tricks up their sleeves for this year’s event, which will go down in the Woodford Reserve Club at Kroger Field on Saturday, July 22. The registration fee is $75, which includes a gift, t-shirt, lunch, and all the pictures with Freddie Maggard you could dream of. For more information, visit ukathletics.com/camps.
9. Wonder Woman was awesome
I’m not a huge superhero/comic books fan, nor do I expect a lot from Hollywood when it comes to females in leading roles, but I absolutely loved Wonder Woman. I came in not knowing a lot about the character other than her accessories have powers, but director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot brought a story many have struggled with to life. I left the theater ready to rumble and happy that finally, little girls have a heroine that’s just as badass as Batman, Superman, or the countless other male superheroes. Do yourself a favor and go see it.
10. One hour until the gang discusses Shannon’s win over Tony Vanetti in OVW
If you haven’t seen the pictures and videos of Shannon wrestling in a speedo, consider yourself warned:
— Ryan Lemond (@ryanlemond) June 4, 2017
Tune in to hear the gang break it down one hour and six minutes from now.
Kentucky knocked off NC State 8-6 on Sunday night to stave off elimination once again. After beating Indiana earlier this afternoon, UK fought off the Wolfpack to force a winner-take-all game on Monday night.
The BatCats used a four-run sixth inning to propel them to a win in their second elimination game of the day. RBI singles from Luke Becker and Zach Reks sent Cliff Hagan Stadium into a frenzy during the sixth.
Marcus Carson hit his second home run of the day and Tristan Pompey went 3/5 with two runs scored in the win.
CATS WIN pic.twitter.com/wKpjCqRao4
— Trey Huntsman (@TreyHuntsmanKSR) June 5, 2017
UK and NC State will face off once again tomorrow night at 7 ET. We will have more on this game on KSR tonight. Follow @TreyHuntsmanKSR for updates from the press conference and Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The Kentucky Baseball team is fighting for their season in the NCAA tournament right now. However, their left handed pitcher has one of the best mustaches in the NCAA tournament, which is very important.
According to NCAA Baseball’s twitter account, Colton Cleary has one of the most “marvelous mustaches on the road to Omaha.”
The senior pitcher from Nicholasville, Ky. was one of eight candidates for the best mustaches currently competing in the tournament.
I might be a little biased, but I think Cleary’s is the best of the pack.
The NCAA Baseball did not stop at mustaches. They found the best beards of this postseason as well. I’m all for this.
THE BEST BEARDS.
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 3, 2017
Kentucky finally capitalized in big situations in the postseason. The BatCats ran away with a 14-9 win over Indiana thanks to opportunistic hitting throughout the lineup. After leaving 24 men on base in the first two games, the UK offense woke up against the Hoosiers.
It didn’t take long for the offense to get rolling against IU starter Cal Krueger. Evan White and Zach Reks singled with one out in the first. Riley Mahan delivered his first RBI of the day on a single to right to score White. Mahan’s two-out RBI was only the first of many for the junior second baseman.
After the Cliff erupted in the first, they were quickly quieted in the bottom half of the inning. Tony Butler homered into the left-field bleachers to tie the game at one. Hopefully, Indiana enjoyed the solo shot, because it was all they would get on Thompson for the next five frames. The freshman retired ten in a row from the first to the fifth. Thompson struck out seven in seven strong innings.
The UK offense gave Thompson all the run support he needed from the second inning on. Marcus Carson homered in the second to answer Butler’s shot in the first. After that, the floodgates opened. Kole Cottam homered with one out in the fourth and Connor Heady singled home Tyler Marshall to give UK a 4-1 lead.
The sixth inning was when UK’s offense really woke up. Tristan Pompey doubled home a pair of runs to increase UK’s lead to five with one out in the sixth. White and Reks both reached to load the bases. With two outs, Mahan delivered for the second time. Mahan jumped all over Tim Herrin’s 0-1 offering and sent it into the right-field parking lot for a grand slam.
— Bradley Stevenson (@bss1974) June 4, 2017
IU would make it interesting with a four-spot in the bottom of the seventh, but UK came right back in the top of the eighth and scored three runs on the tired Indiana bullpen. Colton Cleary and Alec Maley would eat the final two innings and allow five runs in garbage time as UK rolled to 14-9 win on Sunday afternoon.
After defeating Indiana 14-9 this afternoon, UK will take on NC State tonight at 7 ET.
Riley Mahan drove in five runs with two outs today. Mahan went 4/5 with five RBIs against IU. He led the way for a much-improved performance by the Cats offensively.
The Cats dominated with runners in scoring position. UK went 8/12 with RISP and 12/18 with runners on base.
Thompson saves the UK bullpen for tonight’s game. The freshman allowed four runs in seven great innings today. IU hung three runs on home runs in the 7th, but Thompson retired three of the last four to end the threat. Cleary and Maley pitched the final two innings, so UK will have a fairly rested bullpen for the remainder of the regional.
After last night’s loss to N.C. State, UK baseball is at a pivotal point in their season. Thankfully, the BBN is more fired up than ever about Kentucky Baseball. Before you head out to the Cliff this afternoon to watch the BatCats take on Indiana, read up on one player who’s already made significant contributions this season: freshman Zach Thompson.
The left-handed pitcher came to Kentucky from Selma, Indiana, where he attended Wapahani High School. Here, he helped his team bring home the 2A State Championship trophy during his sophomore season, and he was named First-Team All-State for three consecutive years. He owns the school record for career strikeouts (405), strikeouts in a game (20) and season slugging percentage (1.154).
At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Thompson joined the Wildcats as a part of the No. 9 recruiting class. He was ranked the No. 23 left-handed pitcher and No. 134 overall player.
Last summer, Thompson had the opportunity to completely forgo a collegiate career. The recent high school graduate was drafted in the 11th round by the Tampa Bay Rays, and therefore had to decide between playing baseball in Florida while cashing in a nice paycheck or going to college. Luckily for the Cats, he decided to enroll at UK.
“There’s no other atmosphere like college baseball,” Thompson said. “I’m not going to see this at the next level.”
Just like another recent student-athlete, Thompson’s decision to delay his professional career in order to play at Kentucky came down to the wire. The pitcher pushed his announcement right up until the signing deadline.
“I just felt like college was the best fit for me,” Thompson said. “I’ll be able to develop here. I know [assistant coach Jim] Belanger does a really good job with pitchers. Every pitcher he’s ever had has improved his draft stock.”
Against Indiana, his home state, Thompson struck out a career-high 10 batters through six innings. He gave up just two runs on three hits and two walks.
Coach Mingione acknowledged the attitude that often comes with playing against your home state, noting that Thompson didn’t get “all caught up in Indiana.”
“I felt like he was locked in in what he was trying to do,” said Mingione. “And that’s not common for freshmen.”
In another standout game, the freshman pitched a career-best 6.2 innings of shutout baseball in the Cats’ win over UT Martin on April 12. In the victory, the lefty tied a career-high eight strikeouts and lowered his season ERA a full run.
Thompson has not seen any action so far this weekend, but, after Saturday’s loss to N.C. State, Mingione said it is likely that Thompson will start in today’s matchup against Indiana. Make your way to Cliff Hagan Stadium by 1 p.m. to catch Thompson – and the rest of the BatCats – in action.
Coach Keith Madison says there is nothing scarier than playing a team with their backs against the wall. Why? Because that team has two choices; go down fighting or die. Kentucky will need to fight harder than ever to get out of their own regional. The BatCats will need to beat Indiana once and NC State twice in order to advance to the Super Regionals next week. It is extremely difficult, but there are several ways UK could advance if they play their cards right.
UK needs to play like the 2007 Red Sox. That team worked to win every inning rather than the game as a whole. If you look at the total picture, it is a bit intimidating. But UK needs to win a battle at a time rather than the war as a whole. The first battle is tomorrow at 1 ET. The biggest issue for UK will be the lack of pitching depth moving forward. UK is going with Zack Thompson on the mound in game one and will need several big performances from their bullpen in order to win three games in two days.
— KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) May 10, 2017
Thompson was terrific against Indiana last month (see above video), and he will need to step up once again today. With UK using Sean Hjelle yesterday and Justin Lewis and Zach Logue last night, Thompson is the last true starter for the Cats. Thompson will have to go five or six innings and shut down the Hoosiers. After Thompson, UK will need big performances from the likes of Logan Salow and Chris Machamer out of the bullpen. Those three pitchers will most likely make up tomorrow’s staff.
UK’s offense looked tired and unproductive over the last two weeks. If the bats come alive tomorrow, look out for the remainder of this tournament. Kentucky may not have a deep staff, but the offense can carry them if they wake up.
Pompey “There’s no pressure for us. We’re going to go full tilt like we always do”
— Trey Huntsman (@TreyHuntsmanKSR) June 4, 2017
UK will face the steep test of beating NC State twice if they can get past Indiana. Brad Schaenzer and Logue will need to carry the weight if the BatCats can get to Sunday night. Once again, UK will go as far as their offense can take them. Troy Squires, Connor Heady, and Marcus Carson will have to find some production in the bottom half of the lineup so Tristan Pompey and Evan White will have someone to drive in at the top.
“Nothing in life, in this postseason is going to come easy. When we get this done, it’s going to be that much sweeter.” -Nick Mingione
As for NC State, they can definitely be touched. The bullpen for NCST has been used for all but two outs in 21 innings played in the regional. After using seven pitchers in a 12-inning win on Friday, the Pack used Sean Adler 7.2 frames on Saturday. If UK were to make it to Sunday night, then it would be a battle of the bullpens. I have seen my share of regionals, and anything can happen at that point. NC State will definitely have the advantage, but it is not completely out of the realm of possibility that UK could make this happen. If UK’s offense can chance the Pack’s starter early, then it will be interesting to see who they go to for the remainder of the game.
The Lexington Regional bracket after the first two days of play. Two games tomorrow: UK/IU at 1 pm; Winner of that one vs. NC State at 7. pic.twitter.com/TkCaNolyhu
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) June 4, 2017
If the Cats can pull off two wins today, it will all come down to tomorrow night against NC State. Neither team will have any fresh arms at that point. UK could start Logue for three innings, then go to Machamer, Colton Cleary, and Salow to finish it out. The Cats will have arms such as Alec Maley and Austin Keen available if they are needed.
As for Kentucky’s offense, they just need to capitalize. The BatCats have left 24 men on base in this regional. That stat is unacceptable if they want to advance any further. Mingione hinted at the fact that they got under too many balls on Saturday night and he couldn’t be more correct. UK was giving NC State routine flyouts from start to finish. As for their approach and vision at the plate, they are fine. The BatCats have walked 14 times in two games in the postseason. It will be about capitalizing and getting extra base hits.
Are their backs against the wall? Yes. But the BatCats still have a great opportunity to win this regional. UK proved they can beat Indiana with Thompson and NC State can be touched. The BBN needs to come out and support this team just like they have the last two day.
The Kentucky Baseball team has just announced their camps for this summer, and registration is now open. Youth camps are available for children in grades 1-8 throughout June and July, and the high school hitting camp will be on July 3.
Youth camps will offer players the chance to improve their baseball fundamentals through drill work and simulated game situations. Hitting camp will give high school players instruction on hitting through mechanics, drills and various presentations. For both camps, all players will be videotaped for optimal hitting analysis.
For more information and to register, visit UKathletics.com/camps.
Kentucky dropped tonight’s regional game 5-4 to NC State. UK struggled with leaving runners on base early and could not respond to NC State’s three-run fifth inning.
Yesterday’s gritty approach at the plate carried over to the first inning on Saturday. Tristan Pompey singled and advanced to second on an error to start the game. Zach Reks and Luke Becker both walked to load the bases with one out. NC State went to their bullpen with only one out in the first for the second straight game as Sean Adler entered for the Pack. Adler allowed a sac fly from Mahan to score one but stranded the other two runners to end the first.
UK’s stranded runners would soon become the story of the game. After leaving two on in the first, NC State answered with back-to-back home runs to lead off the bottom of the inning. It was the first time UK had trailed in the regional as starter Justin Lewis struggled with command early.
Tristan Pompey tied the game in the third with a solo home run off the scoreboard. It was UK’s first home run since the first game of the SEC Tournament.
Lewis continued to have command issues into the fifth inning. Evan Mendoza tripled past the glove of Marcus Carson in center to score two runs with two outs. Andy Cosgrove singled home Mendoza to give the Pack a 5-2 lead heading into the sixth.
Zach Logue was dominant out of the bullpen but could not match what Adler did for NC State. Adler went 7.2 innings in relief, allowing two runs and striking out five. After Pompey’s homer in the third, the only run Adler allowed came on a Mahan RBI single in the 7th that cut NC State’s lead to two.
Logue held NC State at bay for the final three innings, but it was too little too late. UK’s offense left a lot of men on base early, and a last chance rally fell short. White hit a solo home run in the 9th to make it 5-4, but Austin Staley got Reks to ground out and Kole Cottam to pop out to end the game.
NC State will advance to tomorrow night’s championship, while UK will play tomorrow at 1 ET against Indiana.
The No. 4 seed in the Lexington Regional is out of the tournament. After falling to the Wildcats 6-4 on Friday, the Ohio Bobcats were eliminated by the Indiana Hoosiers 11-2 today at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
After a long night of extra inning baseball, the Hoosiers showed no signs of fatigue. IU’s Logan Sowers hit not one, not two, but three homeruns in the early game at The Cliff.
The loser of tonight’s game between the Wildcats and the Wolf Pack will take on Indiana tomorrow at 1:00 in an elimination game. If the Cats can find a way to win tonight, they’ll play tomorrow night at 7:00 and need to take two losses to be eliminated from the Regional.
A wonderful weekend of baseball began yesterday when a spectacular crowd of 3,956 people came to The Cliff for Kentucky’s first round matchup in the Regional Tournament. The first Lexington Regional since 2006, the Cats got off to a great start in what will hopefully be a wonderful weekend for Kentucky at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Cats Win Game One
For the first time since 1988, Kentucky won the first round Regional game. Sean Hjelle pitched seven scoreless innings before Ohio could get on the scoreboard. The Cats contrasted starkly by scoring runs early and often, getting two in the first on RBIs from Luke Becker and Riley Mahan. Every UK player in the lineup collected a hit, but it wasn’t the prettiest win. The Cats left a ton of runners stranded, something they need to fix tonight.
Check out the highlights here.
A Long Night for N.C. State
Kentucky’s second round opponent, N.C. State, will be fighting against fatigue tonight. The Wolfpack went 12 innings with Indiana before they knocked off the Hoosiers 7-6. The 7:00 p.m. game ended just before midnight. Hopefully a few tired arms will open things up for the Kentucky offense.
Another great day for baseball in the Bluegrass, tonight’s game begins at 7:00. A win would put the Cats in the driver’s seat, just one win away from a Super Regional berth. Tickets are available at the gate or here.
Enes Kanter’s Father was Arrested
As Kanter continues to speak out, the Turkish government continues to apply pressure on Kanter.
Student-Athletes Return to Campus
Summer is just getting started for everyone, except student-athletes. Their time away is coming to a close as they make their way back to campus. Summer classes and workouts begin next week. Don’t feel too bad for them; most are finished with “work” by noon and have the rest of the day to enjoy the long, hot summer.
Calipari Wants Challenges
Calipari’s crazy idea at this year’s SEC Spring Meetings wasn’t as crazy as “Preseason SEC Tourney,” but it’s still kind of out there. He wants coaches to have the ability to challenge any call in the second half. It sounds like a wild way to slow the game down, but they actually already use challenges in the D-League.
Somehow, this wasn’t even the craziest idea he had to offer. “There’s some other thing I told them I wouldn’t mention to you,” Calipari said. “Out of the box stuff they said, ‘Stop, don’t even say that, stop.’”
Pitino’s MAJOR Last Minute Pick-Up
Today at 4:00 Brian “Tugs” Bowen is expected to announce he will attend the University of Louisville. A five-star Top 20 McDonald’s All-American, Pitino’s best Louisville recruiting class is going to finish with his highest-ranked recruit in a decade. The addition should make the Cards must-watch TV, if only to make fun of Bowen’s stupid hair.
Jarren Williams is at the Elite 11
The future Kentucky quarterback is only one of two dozen prospects at Nike’s premiere quarterback camp in Los Angeles. We have yet to find any footage from the event, but everything sounds like Williams did well at his first day of camp.
Listen to the NEW Depth Chart Podcast
Freddie Maggard has another new batch of former players talking football on this week’s Depth Chart Podcast. Chris Chenault and Jay Dortch return to bust Mark Higgs’ chops. The former Wildcat running back is one of the best to ever play at Kentucky, but you wouldn’t know it the way they tear him apart. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to spend an hour and a half.
The Stanley Cup Goes to Nashville
If you’re within a 90 miles and aren’t in Nashville, you’re missing out. Even though the Preds trail the Penguins 2-0, that town will be ON FIRE for its first Stanley Cup Final game. The Preds will try to fight their way back into the series tonight at 8:00/7:00 CT on NBCSN.
The Day the Dude is Dethroned
Tonight is the night you’ve all been waiting for, the night Shannon the Dude gets beat down by Tony Vanetti. Even though one rocker is half the age of the other, Shannon doesn’t stand a chance against the experienced, Body Shapes Medical man set to take the World Radio Heavyweight Championship Belt.
The Saturday Night Special is tonight in Louisville and tickets are still available. There will also be a replay on WBNA-21 Ion-TV in Louisville.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©June 02nd, 2017 @ 8:30pm
On Friday’s edition of Hey Kentucky!, KSR’s own Drew Franklin joined Matt from the golf course to play a game of Big Deal or No Big Deal.
They discussed Bevin’s proposal on how to deal with the violence in Louisville and a man in Vegas suing his own hotel.
Ricky Jones also joined the show to discuss colleges protesting during graduation ceremonies, which you can find below:
Watch the entire episode after the jump:
Kentucky won their first regional opener since 1988 with a 6-4 win over four seeded Ohio on Friday. A strong defensive performance put together with an amazing approach at the plate put Sean Hjelle in a good spot on the mound. Every player in the lineup collected a hit as UK reached base a total of 22 times in the win.
Kentucky’s offense did not wait to settle in against All-MAC Pitcher Michael Klein. With two outs, Zach Reks doubled to right as UK began to rally. Luke Becker and Riley Mahan collected back-to-back RBI singles off Klein in the first to give UK a 2-0 lead thru one. Reks’ double got the offensive motor going for the Cats. The two-strike, two-out double was a jumping point for UK’s attack today. The two-out hit was the first of seven today for the Cats.
The first inning was only the beginning of Kentucky’s impressive attack on Friday. UK really forced Klein to labor in the early innings. Klein threw over 100 pitches in only four innings of work in game one. Mahan shot a single to center to score Evan White and hang the third run on Klein in the fourth. Even with the three runs, it felt like UK could have had more. The Cats left seven runners on base in the first three innings and 15 for the whole game.
Even though UK left so many guys on base, their approach at the plate was much improved since the final two weeks of the season. The Cats walked nine times and collected 13 hits in the win. “It all builds off communication with our team, discussing the strike zone amongst each other, getting a feel for his pitches,” Reks said. “As far as the plan goes, just grind it out and keep on getting the strike zone established.”
The fifth and sixth innings were proof of how smart the Cats were at the plate today. After Tyler Marshall singled to lead off the fifth, he advanced all the way to third on a passed ball and groundout. Tristan Pompey drove him in with two outs on a single to left.
In the sixth, UK worked three walks and two hits off the Ohio Bullpen. Jake Rudinski entered to try and stop the rally early. Rudinski allowed a single and two four-pitch walks before he was pulled. Marshall and Heady were both credited with RBIs as they both walked with the bases loaded to give UK a 6-0 lead thru six.
Kentucky’s offense was forcing the Ohio pitcher to labor on them mound. The Bobcats were doing the exact opposite against Sean Hjelle. Ohio didn’t have a player reach second base until the fifth inning against Hjelle. The righty bounced back after a rough outing in Hoover to lead the Cats on defense. The first six innings were a breeze for Hjelle thanks to the Bobcats approach at the plate. Ohio was jumping on a lot of first pitches and not making good contact. Hjelle’s defense was right behind him to make some incredible plays. Heady made an incredible diving stop and flip to second to save a base hit. White dove at first in the fifth to snag a ball that would have driven in Ohio’s first run of the day.
“My defense has shown up about every start I’ve had” Hjelle said.”It’s really relaxing and comforting knowing that.”
Trailing by six, Ohio looked for some late magic against Hjelle. Spencer Ibarra and Ty Black lead off the inning with singles before Rudy Rott hit a three-run home run over the wall in right. Rott’s bomb ended Hjelle’s day and put some pressure on Chris Machamer out of the bullpen. After walking one, Machamer slammed the door with a pair of flyouts and a strikeout.
Even with Hjelle’s one mistake, his performance to open the tournament was incredible. Hjelle allowed three runs on eight hits in seven innings against Ohio.
In the ninth, UK went to their shut down closer Logan Salow. Devon Garcia drew a walk against Salow and advanced to third with two outs. Black singled Garcia home to bring the tying run to the plate. Salow got an inning-ending ground out to first to send Cliff Hagan up in an ovation.
The crowd today at the Cliff neared 4,000. The BBN came out and supported loud and proud on a hot Friday afternoon. “I want to thank the Big Blue Nation, that was awesome,” Mingione said. “Our guys looked up at all the people and it was just so much blue.”
Kentucky will be back in action tomorrow against either NC State or Indiana at 7 ET.