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Mason Moore transitions from bullpen to starter for Kentucky baseball

Jack Weaver
Kentucky Wildcats pitcher Mason Moore (20) warms up in the bullpen during the Kentucky vs. Morehead State baseball game on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 15-1. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Kentucky pitcher Mason Moore made his first career start on Sunday, leading the Wildcats to a 9-3 victory over USC Upstate in Spartanburg, S.C., to complete a weekend sweep.

Moore, a product of Rowan County High School, where he was serviced as a pitcher, first baseman and right fielder, officially committed to play for the Wildcats in January 2021.

Nearly 14 months later, Moore made his debut in blue. 

In a 14-3 victory over Western Michigan, Moore pitched one inning as a reliever, striking out two batters and allowing one hit. A week later Moore would earn his first career win when he pitched 2.1 innings, struck out two batters and allowed one hit and zero earned runs in a 5-4 victory over Evansville.

Later in the season, however,  Moore would go on to struggle against SEC opponents. In 11 appearances against in-conference foes, Moore posted a dreadful 7.97 ERA, with the Cats only winning a single game in that stretch.

Moore made 19 appearances in his freshman season and finished with one win, a 6.14 ERA and 19 strikeouts.

Kentucky Wildcats pitcher Mason Moore (20) pitches the ball during the Kentucky vs. Indiana State baseball game on Saturday, March 4, 2023, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 5-4. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff (Travis Fannon)

In March 2023, Moore shut down Mississippi State by striking out a career-high seven batters, only allowing two hits and zero runs in 4.1 innings pitched.

Moore improved greatly in his second season, posting a 1.80 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 55 innings pitched.

“Mason Moore is one of the guys that’s going to lead our staff, (he has) just a special arm,” head coach Nick Mingione said ahead of the 2024 season. “He’s going to move into a starter role. He’s ready for it, he’s earned it.”

In last season’s NCAA Tournament, Moore pitched 14.1 scoreless innings, resulting in two wins, earning him a nod to the All-Regional Team.

“Looking back to last year’s regional win, I think it’s awesome that he was a Kentuckian on the mound when we got that last out and we could celebrate in a dogpile,” Mingione said.

Entering the 2024 season, Moore was named to the preseason All-American Third Team by the National Baseball Collegiate Writers Association. Meanwhile, D1Baseball ranked Moore in the top 60 starting pitchers.

“It’s always been a goal of mine ever since I’ve been here to be a starter,” Moore said. “It’s definitely different for me, being a reliever last year. Biggest thing for me is just trying to figure out my routine for right now.”

This past offseason, Kentucky lost aces Zack Lee, Logan Martin, Tyler Bosma and Darren Williams. The Wildcats needed Moore to step up as a starter.

“I’m going to try and approach things the same, I’m not trying to think too much about it,” Moore said. “Starting is obviously different but last year at the end of the year, I was throwing three to five innings at a time. I just got to get out there, I know what I have, I know what I can bring to the team.”

The Kentucky Wildcats return to action on Friday, Feb. 23, traveling to Round Rock, Texas, to play Washington State. First pitch will be at 3 p.m. ET and the game will air live at

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