Last night’s game was likely the last time that Louisville will play at Cliff Hagan Stadium before Kentucky moves to their new home in the fall. The BatCats went out with a bang against their biggest rival as they topped the #24 Cardinals by a score of 8-5. It wasn’t a pretty game, but a win against Louisville is a win against Louisville. Here are some takeaways from the big victory over UL on Tuesday.
Mingione Welcomes Worried Fans
You can admit that you were one of the worried fans after last weekend’s series loss to Alabama. It’s all alright because Coach Mingione loves you just the same. “I love anybody that cares. So to be grumbling, it probably means you care. So I would welcome that because they care. And you know what? I don’t want to coach at a place that doesn’t care.”
This Should Be a Weekend Series
There is no reason that a rivalry of this caliber should be played on a Tuesday night twice a season. As we saw tonight, playing in the midweek leads to both teams not throwing their top arms and the games turn sloppy and long. Some in-state rivals across the country play their series in the format of both teams hosting a game and one being played at a larger minor league stadium. If Louisville and Kentucky played a weekend series, we would see better games and larger crowds. Unfortunately, Mingione doesn’t think the idea is likely. “We have never talked about that. Dan and I talked about some things before the game, about some different things we could maybe do but we haven’t talked about a weekend series.”
Chris Machamer Was Brilliant in Relief
UK has not given their closer a lot of save opportunities this season. With so many large leads entering the ninth, Machamer has not had a chance to pick up many saves. Machamer collected his second save of the season tonight when he threw 2.1 innings in relief. The sophomore flamethrower did not allow a hit in relief tonight. Machamer slammed the door in his 2.1 innings of relief tonight, and UK has to be elated. Having Machamer eligible to go two or more innings at the backend of games will be a gamechanger for the bullpen.
Alex Rodriguez Boosted the Offense Off the Bench
There has been a lot of talk about JUCO transfers Ben Aklinski and Ryan Johnson, but Rodriguez has flown under the radar as a junior. Rodriguez is stuck behind Luke Heyer at third, but he got the start at the hot corner tonight with Heyer starting in right field. Rodriguez was an on-base machine tonight. The Florida-native walked three times and was hit by a pitch in five plate appearances against Louisville. If he can put together games like that at the plate paired with his amazing defense (see below), then UK has a special player waiting for 2019.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) April 2, 2018
Kentucky Played Their Sloppiest Game of the Year and Won.
Tonight wasn’t pretty. UK committed five errors, walked six batters, and left 12 men on base. But what did they do? They won. They beat a top 25 team when they did not play to their max potential. UK’s defense did not play their best game of the season. Some of the defense’s struggles can be attributed to the 45 MPH wind gusts, but it was still not their best game in the field. The UK bullpen showed that they have the ability to mop up a mess if they are called upon early in games. The offense proved that they can take advantage of their opponent’s mistakes and grind out victories. This game should not carry a lot of weight at this point, but it should prove that this team can win on their worst nights.
The BatCats will be back in action this weekend against South Carolina. Come check out the team after you finish at Keeneland or watch on SECN+.