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UK Baseball now in the Top 5 nationally

Katie Dugan | UK Athletics

Katie Dugan | UK Athletics

Another week, another impressive set of wins for the UK Baseball team, which jumped two more spots to number four in D1Baseball’s Top 25 rankings. That’s the best of any SEC team, which is saying something:

1. Oregon State
2. Louisville
3. North Carolina
4. Kentucky
5. Auburn
6. Texas Tech
7. Florida
8. Clemson
9. TCU
10. Long Beach State

The Bat Cats also moved to third in the NCAA’s RPI, which is also the best in the SEC. With this weekend’s wins, they moved to 31-14, 14-7 in SEC play. Kentucky’s offense leads the SEC in Batting Average, Runs, Doubles, Total Bases, Slugging, Hits, On-Base Percentage, RBI, Sacrifices and Hit By Pitch. It is second in Home Runs and third in Walks.

In a sign of just how much he’s done in such a short time, Nick Mingione is the only first-year UK coach to win at least 30 games, and now has the most SEC victories for a first-year UK coach.

Impressive stuff. You can get in on the movement this weekend as the team hosts Georgia for a three-game series. Friday and Saturday’s games will take place at 6:30 p.m. at The Cliff, while Sunday’s finale will start at 1 p.m. All games will be broadcast on SEC Network+ (so, streaming, not on TV).

Go Bat Cats.


Kentucky Wins First Series At South Carolina Since 1999

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

#6 Kentucky scored a combined five runs in the eighth and the ninth innings to run away from South Carolina in a 9-4 win. Logan Salow struck out ten in 4.2 innings in relief to guide Kentucky to their 31st win of the season. Heading into the final three weekends of the season, UK is tied for the overall SEC lead and first in the East.

Recap

UK could not battle back from an early deficit yesterday, but the tide changed today. Ross Grosvenor homered in the second off Justin Lewis to give USC a 1-0 lead. But the BatCats came back in a hurry. Tristan Pompey drove in Marcus Carson with a RBI single in the third to tie the game at one. Evan White broke the tie with his sixth home run of the year, a two-run home bomb off Josh Parke. 

The bottom of the order added an insurance run in the top of the fourth. Troy Squires doubled with one out and Tyler Marshall singled to drive in UK’s fourth run of the game.

South Carolina came into the weekend with a losing streak of four consecutive series. The Gamecocks were hungry to end the streak, and it showed in the fifth. John Jones hit a two-run home run off Lewis and Carlos Cortes tied the game with a RBI double. With one out in the fifth, Logan Salow entered and ended the rally.

Salow dominated in a way that he never had today. The senior struck out the side in the sixth and the seventh innings and finished with ten total punchouts. Salow shutting down the Gamecocks could not have come at a better time. USC had just tied the game and looked ready to add more, but Salow shut the door for the final 4.2 innings.

While Salow dominated on the mound, UK’s offense found a late-inning spark. Marshall drove in his second run of the game to break the 4-4 tie, and Pompey picked up two more RBI with a two-out single to right. 

With UK leading 7-4 in the ninth, the Cats got some insurance thanks to Riley Mahan. The defending SEC Player of the Week hit a two-run home run off USC’s top reliever Colie Bowers. The Gamecocks went down without a whimper in the ninth as Salow struck out two more to wrap up a 9-4 win for UK.

After winning two of three in Columbia, UK won their first series at USC since 1999. The coach of that UK team? Keith Madison. Kentucky does not have a midweek game this week due to finals week, (Thank the Lord, reporters gotta study too) but they are back in action next Friday at home against Georgia.

 


Photo by UK Athletics

Softball team upsets Texas A&M, wins series

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

The No. 18 softball team took their weekend series against No. 4 Texas A&M after dropping the first game on Friday night of senior weekend.

Kentucky won their game today 7-4, cumulating their seven runs off nine hits. The win puts them at 34-14 overall and 11-10 in the SEC.

The series win is big for the Cats, who had a six-game win streak going into the weekend.

The Cats will travel to Starkville next weekend for a weekend series against Mississippi State and then it’s on to the post-season.


Katie Dugan | UK Athletics

UK Baseball Falls to South Carolina

Katie Dugan | UK Athletics

Katie Dugan | UK Athletics

The sixth-ranked Kentucky baseball team dropped game two of their series at South Carolina, falling to the No. 21 Gamecocks in Columbia 5-1.

After a Friday night offensive explosion that featured 19 runs and 20 hits, the Cats could only muster two hits against the Gamecocks’ Adam Hill.  The BatCats’ only run was a solo shot by Tyler Marshall in the top of the fourth, his first homerun of the year.  They had a chance to rally in the top of the eighth, but a 6-4-3 double play stopped the Cats in their tracks.

The BatCats will try to win their third consecutive SEC series tomorrow at 1:30.

Don’t let that get you down.  The UK Softball team took down No. 4 Texas A&M 7-2 for a Senior Day victory.  Instead of explaining it to you, I’ll let Ky Wildcats TV do the honors.

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Kentucky Runs Over South Carolina 19-1

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Tristan Pompey collected four hits and Luke Becker hit two home runs as #6 Kentucky destroyed South Carolina 19-1 in Columbia. The Cats scored three runs or more in five innings in support of Sean Hjelle. The 18-run win was the largest over a SEC opponent in UK history.

Recap

Where to even start with this game? There were only two innings that UK didn’t score at least one run. The ball was flying out of the ballpark early and often for the Cats, but it was the small ball that got UK on the board early. UK got three early runs thanks to moving up on the basepaths. After UK loaded the bases in the third, Tristan Pompey drove in his first of four runs to give UK a 4-0 lead thru three.

Evan White added a run by scoring on a wild pitch in the fourth, but the ball started flying in the fifth. Pompey hit his seventh home run of the season as UK chased projected first round pick Wil Crowe after 4.2 innings. Crow filled in on Friday night for Clarke Schmidt, who will be out for the next year after needing Tommy John Surgery.

Zach Reks and Becker both walked and moved up on a wild pitch to lead off the sixth inning. With no outs, Riley Mahan and Troy Squires delivered with RBI singles off Colby Lee. Mahan would come around to score on a double play to give UK a 10-0 lead.

Squires was one of the guys tonight that just pounded USC’s pitching. Tonight was Squires’ second three-hit game of the season. It was also the third time that Becker had driven in five or more runs in 2017.

UK kept piling it on in the seventh and ninth innings. Connor Heady homered to lead off the seventh before Luke Becker added the exclamation point. Becker hit a three-run home run in the seventh and two-run dinger in the 9th to cap off a huge night for Kentucky’s offense. Becker, Heady, and Pompey all have seven home runs to tie Mahan for the team lead.

It’s hard to talk about anything else but the offensive performance tonight, but Hjelle was excellent once again. Hjelle struck out six in six scoreless innings as he lowered his ERA to 3.67 in 2017. After a rough start, Hjelle has emerged to an excellent Friday night starter. The talent mixed with a perfect amount of emotion on the mound makes Hjelle one of the top Friday night guys in the league.

Kentucky can make the SEC East Champion a two horse race with a win tomorrow. Florida won again tonight and trails UK by two games with 11 games to play. UK and USC are back at it tomorrow at 4 ET on SECN+.


UK Athletics

Kentucky’s Offense Is Dominating The Nation

Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics

Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics

It is no secret that Kentucky Baseball has one of the best offenses in all of college baseball. The BatCats have a new offensive approach, installed by hitting coach Todd Guilliams and assistant coach Roland Fanning. Thanks to the new look at the plate, UK has seen a complete change from last season. But how good has Kentucky’s offense been? Here’s a look into the numbers of the best offense in the SEC.

  • .315 batting average (1st in the SEC, 14th nationally)
  • 318 runs scored (1st in the SEC, 14th nationally)
  • Keep in mind, UK is facing a future first rounder every Friday night in conference play and also played a combined five games against #2 Louisville and #4 UNC.

In Moneyball, Billy Beane makes it clear that he doesn’t care if a guy reaches base on a walk or a hit. Nick Mingione’s offense thinks the same way. Mingione said that “the definition of a good offense is one that scores runs when they’re not hitting.” That is exactly what UK does at the plate. Take a look at how UK regularly gets on base.

  • .421 on-base percentage (1st in the SEC, 4th nationally)
  • 198 walks (3rd in the SEC, 23rd nationally)
  • 252 strikeouts (12th in the SEC)
  • 68 hit by pitches (1st in the SEC, 6th nationally)
  • Two players in the top five in the SEC in OBP (Tristan Pompey and Zack Reks)
  • The only team with an OBP over .400 in the SEC.
UK Athletics

UK Athletics

The team has been much more patient than last season when they posted a team OBP of .345. Strikeout numbers are down and walk rates are up. The team is taking more pitchess and is barreling up more balls. With more balls getting squared up, Kentucky is driving the ball to all parts of the field and over the wall.

  • The team is only ten bombs away from matching their 2016 total (52). The team is second in the SEC in home runs this season thanks to Riley Mahan, Connor Heady, and Tristan Pompey contributing with a combined 19 homers. The team averaged 0.91 home runs per game last year. That number is up to 1.02 in 2017.
  • 101 doubles (1st in the SEC, 3rd nationally)
  • 676 total bases (1st in the SEC)
  • .490 slugging percentage (1st in the SEC, 10th nationally)

As previously mentioned, UK faces some of the toughest arms in the nation. So how did they shape up against those future big leaguers?

  • Brigham Hill (Texas A&M): Five runs, six hits, no walks, three extra-base hits.
  • Kyle Wright (Vanderbilt, projected top ten pick): Seven runs, nine hits, four walks, two extra-base hits.
  • Alex Lange (LSU, projected first rounder): Three runs, seven hits, eight walks, four extra-base hits.
  • Jared Poche (LSU) Five runs, seven hits, two walks in only three innings.

Kentucky’s offense will face the second toughest pitching staff of the season when they visit South Carolina. The BatCats have another opportunity to prove their offense is one of the bests in the nation.

@TreyHuntsmanKSR


KSR Baseball Podcast: Week 9

It doesn’t get much better than last week.  The Cats dismantled their second-ranked rival before winning a series against a Top 10 LSU team at The Cliff.

Trey Huntsman and Coach Keith Madison break down all of the action in the ninth edition of the KSR Baseball Podcast, brought to you this week by Performance Physical Therapy (www.performanceptky.com).  Aaron Fitt of D1 Baseball joins the podcast to discuss the BatCats’ postseason hopes and much more, including:

—  Is Kentucky’s current win streak the most impressive in the country?

—  Why Kentucky is in the driver’s seat for a Top Eight national seed in the NCAA Tournament.

—  The best way to describe the BatCats: “balanced.”

—  This week’s usual mound visit, trivia question, are accompanied by a special one-time segment: Roush’s Baseball Story.

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.


Kentuckymbb|IG

Winners from the 15th CATSPYs

Kentuckymbb|IG

KentuckyMBB | IG

Community Service Award
Alex Carter (women’s soccer)
Sean Gunn (men’s swimming and diving)
Female Rookie of the Year
Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (women’s track and field)
Male Rookie of the Year
Malik Monk (men’s basketball)
Bill Keightley “Assist” Award
Ryan Clark (men’s basketball)
Blue Heart Award
Kole Cottam (baseball)
Alex Montgomery (football)
Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Danielle Galyer (women’s swimming and diving)
Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Paul Sime (men’s soccer)
Female Academic Team of the Year
Women’s tennis
Male Academic Team of the Year
Men’s golf
Scratch Award
Paige Poffenberger (women’s basketball)
Supporting Role
Dominique Hawkins (men’s basketball)
Heart of a Wildcat
Makayla Epps (women’s basketball)
Evelyn Akhator (women’s basketball)
Female Athlete of the Year
Sha’Keela Saunders (women’s track and field)
Male Athlete of the Year
Jacob Thomson (men’s track and field)
Coach(es) of the Year
Mark Stoops (football)
John Calipari (men’s basketball)
Lars Jorgensen (swimming and diving)
Edrick Floréal (track and field)
Female Team of the Year
Women’s swimming and diving
Male Team of the Year
Men’s basketball
Miss Wildcat
Danielle Galyer (swimming and diving)
Mr. Wildcat
Jon Toth (football)

A few takeaways:

—  Do we need four coaches to receive awards?  Coach Cal has won enough while at Kentucky.  I don’t think he’d feel slighted if a year went by and he didn’t get the hardware from the athletic department.

—  Benny Snell got snubbed.  I love watching Malik Monk play basketball, but pardon me for being more excited about Benny Snell.  We see freshman phenoms on the basketball court ALL THE TIME.   What Snell did last season has only been done by a few UK football players, let alone a freshman.  Which brings me to my next point…

—  The basketball team doesn’t need any more awards.  They’re treated like award-winners before they reach campus.  They reach rockstar-status as soon as they get to campus, then receive more awards.  I think they’re good on awards.  Let the CATSPYs go to the rest of the hard-working athletes, not the ones that get all of the BBN’s love.

—  Three Perfect Awards.  Makayla Epps and Evelyn Akhator received the “Heart of a Wildcat” to perfectly encapsulate their Kentucky careers.  The Blue Heart Award is given to those who persevere through injury, and there isn’t a better example than Alex Montgomery.  Mr. Wildcat Jon Toth is everything you want in a student-athlete and tonight he earned his unwanted time in the spotlight.


UK Baseball up to #6 in the latest D1 Baseball Poll

Photo by Quinn Foster | UK Athletics

Photo by Quinn Foster | UK Athletics

We now take a break from draft drama to check in on the UK Baseball team, which is coming off one heck of a week. After knocking off #2 Louisville (1-0) and #8 LSU (2-1), the Bat Cats jumped from #10 to #6 in D1 Baseball’s weekly poll, one of the most prominent baseball polls (because there are a lot). Sixth is pretty impressive for a program most assumed would be in rebuilding mode in Nick Mingione’s first year as head coach.

If you’re curious about the differences between all five baseball polls, have no fear; one of the guys behind the D1 Baseball poll is coming on our own KSR Baseball Podcast soon to break down the criteria with Trey Huntsman and Keith Madison. In the meantime, enjoy the highlights of UK’s rout of LSU to win the series yesterday:

 


UK Athletics

Kentucky Takes Series Over LSU With 10-2 Win On Sunday

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Kentucky used 18 hits and a complete game victory from Justin Lewis to pick up a 10-2 win over #9 LSU on Sunday. The BatCats (28-13, 12-6) got big days from Riley Mahan, Kole Cottam, and Zach Reks at the plate to lead them to a series win. UK now sits atop the SEC East standings and will most likely rise close to a top five spot in next week’s poll.

Recap

UK jumped all over LSU for the third time this weekend. The first seven batters of the game reached base on LSU starter Eric Walker as UK scored four runs in the bottom of the first. UK got RBI doubles from Luke Becker and Zach Reks and Marcus Carson added a RBI groundout.

The first inning was a sign of things to come for UK’s offense. Kole Cottam and Riley Mahan hit back-to-back homers in the bottom of the third to chase Walker with one out in the inning. Both home runs were absolute moonshots that carried 400 feet off the bat.

Kentucky really stepped on LSU’s throats with another three-spot in the bottom of the fourth. Cottam drove in his third run of the game before Mahan and Becker singled in runs to put UK in double digits in runs.

Justin Lewis quietly dominated for UK on the bump. The sophomore struck out six and allowed two runs (one earned) in a complete game and moved to 6-2 on the season with a 2.82 ERA. Lewis had his plus changeup working today and it led him posting one of his best starts of the season.

LSU’s only firepower came in the second and sixth innings. Josh Smith drove in an unearned run with a single in the second and Nick Coomes added a solo shot to cut UK’s lead to 10-2 in the sixth. Outside of those two instances, Lewis was untouchable. Lewis only hit 90 on the radar gun once but pitched his best game of the season against a top ten opponent.

UK got several runners in scoring position in the final three innings but LSU’s bullpen wiggled out of a couple tough jams. The late effort by the pitching staff was all for not as Lewis slammed the door with a 1-2-3 ninth inning to clinch a series win.

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Notes

Riley Mahan might be the SEC Player of the Week- After going 2/4 against Louisville, Mahan went 9/12 this weekend with five RBIs, a home run, two doubles, two walks, and a HBP. Mahan is really developing into one of the best offensive second basemen in the country. He now leads the team with seven home runs and 40 RBIs.

UK’s approach looked completely different than Friday- After leaving 14 men on base on Friday, UK capitalized on big opportunities today. The BatCats still left 11 on base, but when you have 18 hits and six walks, not everyone is going to come around. Four different players had three or more hits on Sunday, including Reks collecting four hits in the win. Evan White now has hits in 17 of his last 18 games and Tristan Pompey is riding a 12-game hitting streak and has had a hit in 28 of the last 30 games.

Kentucky is in line for a national seed- After taking Tuesday’s game against Louisville and winning this weekend’s series over LSU, it appears UK is headed towards a top eight seed in June’s NCAA Tournament. The Cats now hold a two-game lead over Florida in the SEC East and trail only Mississippi State in the overall standings.


Kentucky Baseball Could Clinch a Huge Series Win This Afternoon

 

Photo by Quinn Foster | UK Athletics

Photo by Quinn Foster | UK Athletics

Need a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon? If you aren’t already at Cliff Hagan Stadium, and you’re among the few whose TV gets SEC Network+, you can tune in right now to see the 10th ranked Wildcats take on 9th ranked LSU Tigers.

The Cats and the Tigers split a doubleheader on Friday, with UK taking game one 12-5, and LSU coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3 in game two. The two top ten squads meet again today, each hoping to clinch the series and improve their stock heading into the postseason.

Coach Nick Mingione is spearheading the triumphant return of UK Baseball. Best of luck to the Bat Cats today. If you don’t have SECN+, you can always check WatchESPN or just listen to the action on 630 AM-WLAP.

@JayWinkKSR 


UK Athletics

BatCats Split Doubleheader With LSU

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Thanks to the impending weather on Saturday, #10 Kentucky and #9 LSU were forced to play a doubleheader on Friday. UK took game one 12-5 thanks in large part to Riley Mahan and Luke Becker. LSU won 4-3 in a dogfight in the night session. Here is a quick look back at Friday’s games. 

Kentucky 12 LSU 5

Friday afternoon quickly became the Luke Becker show. The sophomore third baseman blasted two home runs, including a grand slam to help take game one of the series. Riley Mahan went 5/5 with two doubles and three RBIs in the win. UK’s offense dominated LSU’s Friday guy Jared Poche in game one. Poche allowed five runs in three innings and was outdueled by Sean Hjelle. LSU hung two runs on Hjelle in the second inning and one in the seventh but that was it. Hjelle allowed three runs in six innings while striking out three to pick up his sixth win of the season. LSU’s offense had a solid day at the plate, but UK overpowered them from start to finish. The BatCats had six players get multiple hits and added eight walks as a team. Mahan saw his average on the season rise to .329 with an impressive two games against LSU. He is now second in hits behind Tristan Pompey on the team.

 

LSU 4 Kentucky 3

LSU somehow found a way to steal this game from the Cats. UK could not capitalize on several big opportunities on Friday night. Projected-first rounder Alex Lange struggled with his command throughout his 5.2 innings and put plenty of Cats in scoring position. Kole Cottam got the offense rolling in the bottom of the second with a solo home run to right field. Following the solo shot, UK loaded the bases against Lange. Evan White walked to bring home a run and to put up a crooked number in the second inning. 

UK would leave the bases loaded in the second inning. This became a common theme for the BatCats on Friday night. UK left the bases loaded in the second, third, and fourth innings against LSU. Lange walked eight batters and allowed seven hits, but UK only got to him for three runs over 5.2 innings.

Zack Reks drove in the third run of the game in the fourth inning off Lange. After that, Lange was able to work out of a couple jams and give his offense an opportunity to come back. Just as the rain started to fall, LSU roared back to tie the game in the fifth. Starter Zach Logue lost control of his fastball and curveball and was removed with one out in the fifth. Logan Salow came on and got the second out of the inning before Nick Coomes singled home two runs to tie the game. 

Salow pitched well into the eighth, but LSU was able to get to him. Antoine Duplantis singled to the right side to score Josh Smith and give LSU a 4-3 lead. UK kept fighting in the last two innings but could not find the tying run. Tristan Pompey doubled but was stranded at third and Zeke Lewis was left at first to end the game. The BatCats left 14 men on base in the loss.

Moving Forward

There is no game tomorrow due to the rain that will move in overnight. Game three of the series will be at 1 ET at the Cliff on Sunday. 

 


UK Baseball changes schedule for series with LSU because of weather

Photo by Quinn Foster | UK Athletics

Photo by Quinn Foster | UK Athletics

If you’re planning on cheering on the Bat Cats in their series vs. #8 LSU this weekend, then listen up! Due to the threat of storms in Lexington on Saturday, UK had to alter the schedule. Kentucky will now play a doubleheader vs. LSU on Friday beginning at 2 p.m. The second game of the day will start one hour after the first one ends, so approximately 6:30 p.m. The final game of the series will take place Sunday at 1 p.m. Once again, that schedule is…

  • Game 1: Friday, 2 p.m.
  • Game 2: Friday, one hour after end of game 1 (about 6:30 p.m.)
  • Game 2: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Tickets for Saturday’s contest may be used for Friday’s doubleheader and can be exchanged for a future date as well. Call the UK Ticket Office at 859-257-1818 for more information. All games will still be shown live on SEC Network+ and the WatchESPN app.

ICYMI last night, here are 10 reasons now is the perfect time to get into UK Baseball. And some highlights from the win over Louisville Tuesday night:

 


Chet White | UK Athletics

10 reasons now’s the time to get into UK Baseball (from someone who doesn’t really like baseball)

Tyler Marshall and Connor Heady celebrate the win over Louisville (Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics)

Tyler Marshall and Connor Heady celebrate the win over Louisville (Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics)

If you’ve read this website for any amount of time, you probably know I’m not a big baseball fan. To me, baseball is the perfect example of a sport that’s fun to watch in person but fails to translate to television. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack and put me in the stands, and I’m happy as a clam (although really, I’d prefer a hot dog and a beer). Throw in some sunshine, a nice breeze, and organ music and there are few things better, really; however, when you’re sitting on your couch watching, it has the same effect on me that non-major golf tournaments do: drowsiness.

Yet, even I am giving baseball another go this week for one big reason: the UK Baseball team is kicking butt. And there’s nothing I love more than UK sports teams kicking butt, especially Louisville’s like they did last night. In Nick Mingione’s first year as head coach, he has the squad ranked in the top 10 in the midst of a crucial stretch of games.

If you’re like me and considering hopping on the Bat Cats’ bandwagon, here are ten reasons why you should:

1. They just beat Louisville

Yes, this is obvious, especially since I just mentioned it, but last night’s win over Louisville was pretty great. Not only is Louisville ranked #2 in the country right now, they beat Kentucky earlier this season, making the win especially sweet. You can read Trey Hunstman’s recap here, but the final score was 11-7, with Kentucky’s 11 runs all coming in the first four innings. Those 11 runs are the most for the Cats against Louisville since scoring 12 in a 12-11 on March 30, 2005, and even though Louisville rallied, Kentucky still held them off.

2. They did something that’s only happened once in MAJOR LEAGUE baseball history

By now, you’ve probably seen the rare 7-2-6 (left fielder, catcher, shortstop) triple play from last night’s game, but it deserves another viewing, particularly with Neil Price’s call:

Another view from WKYT’s Steve Moss:

How incredible was that play? Not only was it the first triple play in school history and the #1 play on last night’s “SportsCenter,” there’s only been one 7-2-6 triple play in MAJOR LEAGUE history, and it happened back in 1923 between the Phillies and Pirates. Well done, guys.

3. They did it in front of a record crowd

On a night in which there were rain showers in the area, UK set a new Cliff Hagan Stadium attendance record with 4,018 fans in the stands, passing the 4,009 mark set against Louisville on April 8, 2008. Shoutout to last nine people in the door for helping Mingione make some history.

If you need another reason to come on out to The Cliff, here’s one: they’re 17-2 at home this season. That’s a pretty impressive mark. Kentucky’s only two home losses this season were to Ole Miss and Vandy, two good teams that Kentucky eventually went on to win the series against.

Speaking of The Cliff…

4. The new stadium is coming right along

No offense to Cliff Hagan Stadium, but it was time for an upgrade. If you’ve driven around the south side of campus, you’ve probably noticed the progress on Kentucky’s new baseball stadium, which will be completed in the fall of 2018, just in time for the 2019 season. The price tag is estimated to be around $49 million, which will put Kentucky on par with its peers in the SEC. Here’s the rendering:

There’s even a live cam if you really enjoy watching construction. Notice Commonwealth Stadium in the background:

Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 2.08.59 PM

5. They’re defying expectations

Given last season’s struggles and the fact that this is Nick Mingione’s first year as a head coach, everyone — understandably — had guarded expectations for this season…except the team. After stumbling early against a very good North Carolina team on the road, the Bat Cats are now in the top ten nationally and atop the SEC East standings, which is no small feat. In fact…

6. They actually lead the SEC in a lot of statistical categories

After ranking in the bottom half of the league in almost major statistical category last year, they now rank in the top three in most more than a third of the way through the season:

In a league in which most people consider baseball second to football, that’s a remarkable improvement.

7. It’s impossible not to like Nick Mingione

This is probably the number one reason I’m giving UK Baseball a shot. After listening to him on KSR and in other media appearances, it’s pretty much impossible not to like Mingione. He’s young, passionate, smart, funny, and even a little self-deprecating, all qualities I admire, especially in coaches. Listening to him talk about how Lexington was the only SEC town he would bring his wife to while an assistant at Mississippi State and how he dreamed of one day coaching here would probably sound like pure BS coming from most people, but I genuinely believe it from him. As David Spade said in the 1995 classic “Tommy Boy,” he could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves. It’s no wonder that today, he picked up a big commitment from former Under Armour and Perfect Game All-American Ryan Johnson.

Looking at these photos from @kevinsaal of Mingione addressing his team after the win last night, it almost looks like he’s tearing up:

Beating Louisville can do that to you, coach. I get it.

8. They’re about to play LSU

The Cats can’t afford to celebrate the Louisville win too much; #8 LSU is on deck for a three-game series, which starts on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Saturday’s game will also start at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday’s at 1 p.m. Unfortunately, the games won’t be televised (on normal TV), but you can watch on your computer, tablet, or phone on SEC Network+ or listen on the UK Sports Network via UKathletics.com, 630 AM WLAP, or iHeartRadio.

Hopefully LSU doesn’t bring their rally possum:

9. The former coach is part of the KSR Baseball Podcast

You didn’t expect me to get through this list without plugging our own KSR Baseball podcast, did you? Our baseball writer Trey Huntsman is determined to up our baseball coverage — which was needed — and a big part of that is his new podcast, which is cohosted by former UK Baseball coach Keith Madison. Their guests have included current head coach Nick Mingione and former Cat and former MLB outfielder Austin Kearns.

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.

10. What else are you going to do with your time?

If you’re like me, you’re itching to fill the time you used to spend watching UK basketball and football with something else. With the Predators playing well, playoff hockey is doing it for me right now, but other than that, I’ll cheer for John Wall and the other Cats in the NBA playoffs, watch the Derby, and that’s about it.

…Which is why UK Baseball is so perfect. Join me on the bandwagon, won’t you?


KSR Baseball Podcast: Week 8

 

After a monumental 11-7 victory over UofL in front of a sold out crowd at Cliff Hagan Stadium, Trey Huntsman and Coach Keith Madison are here to break down the game with a special guest, UK assistant coach Todd Guilliams.  Go inside baseball with the coaches and hear…

—  How the BatCats got off to a great start offensively against UofL.

—  Ben McDonald of the SEC Network joins the program to look ahead to the LSU game.

—  How Coach Madison failed to recruit McDonald to Kentucky.

—  What it was like to win a gold medal in baseball for Team USA.

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.