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Kentucky baseball suffers first loss, finishes Karbach Round Rock Classic 2-1

Isaiah Pinto
Kentucky Wildcats second baseman Emilien Pitre watches as pitcher Drew Lafferty pitches on the mound during the Kentucky vs. Morehead State baseball game on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 9-5. Photo by Isaiah Pinto | Staff

Kentucky Baseball (6-1) finished with a 2-1 record in the Karbach Round Rock Classic in Round Rock, Texas.

The Wildcats took on the Washington State Cougars in game one, with errors and missed opportunities resulting in the Wildcats’ first loss of the season by a score of 6-4.

Travis Smith started and worked around leadoff work in the first and things started well for the Cats with Devin Burkes being hit by a pitch and Émilien Pitre doubling to bring him home and give the Cats a 1-0 lead.

Unfortunately for the Cats they went cold and, when Smith surrendered back to back singles again in the fourth, a triple scored both runners. Another single brought home another runner before Smith got the final out of the inning, making the score to 3-1 Cougars.

The traffic continued for Smith as a misplay by Ty Crittenberger allowed the batter to reach third base and, after a ground ball, another Cougar scored.

Trey Pooser relieved Smith in the top of the sixth and tossed back-to-back three up, three down innings, with Kentucky’s offense getting back on the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh after a single by Nolan McCarthy scored Patrick Herrera to shorten the deficit to 4-2.

Kentucky Wildcats pitcher Zach Hise warms up in the bullpen during the Kentucky vs. Morehead State baseball game on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 9-5. Photo by Isaiah Pinto | Staff (Isaiah Pinto)

Mitchell Daly scored on an error that allowed Crittenberger to score and McCarthy advanced to third, but a popped-up bunt attempt and a double play quickly ended the rally.

Pooser surrendered two bases-loaded walks in the eighth that extended the Cougars lead to 6-3 and was relieved by Jackson Nove, who pitched the final two outs of the eighth along with all three outs in the ninth.

Kentucky drew one run closer in the bottom of the eighth with a sacrifice fly by Herrera, but with another chance to tie or take the lead, the Cats once again came up short.

Needing two to tie and three to win in the bottom of the ninth, Crittenberger and Grant Smith reached via a walk and a hit by pitch, but a lineout by Nick Lopez was followed by strikeouts to end the game.

Ryan Nicholson had some words for the home plate umpire after the strike out, which resulted in him being ejected and suspended for game two.

In game two, Kentucky’s bats rebounded as they defeated Texas State 11-5 with Dominic Niman starting on the mound.

A single by Devin Burkes and a double by Lukas Schramm scored Ryan Waldschmidt, Herrera and Burkes to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead after one.

Niman was tagged for a home run in the second, but limited the damage to just the lone run before a double by Smith and a grand slam by Daly resulted in an 8-1 Cats lead after two.

Texas State was able to use a double and single to score three runs before Ryan Hagenow came on and tossed scoreless sixth and seventh innings.

Daly continued his big day with a two-run single in the sixth that extended the Wildcats lead to 10-4 but, after a controversial call, head coach Nick Mingoine was ejected by the home plate umpire after an exchange of words.

Evan Byers then relieved Hagenow before McCarthy drew a bases-loaded walk to bring home Burkes and extend the lead.

Colby Frieda came on in the bottom of the top of the ninth and gave up a run, but got the final three outs to secure the 11-5 victory.

Finally, in game three, Kentucky used a critical Kansas error to secure an 8-5 victory.

With the offense flat to start, Mason Moore pitched a scoreless first inning before giving up one run to give the Jayhawks a 1-0 lead.

A single by Burkes brought home Smith to even the score at 1-1 in the top of the third before, with two runners on, Waldschmidt hit a ground ball to load the bases. Herrera then cleared the bases with a triple to break the tie and give the Cats a 4-1 advantage.

The Cats would keep it up with Pitre crushing an opposite-field home run that scored three, but eventually Moore ran into trouble in the bottom of the fifth as two walks and a single loaded the bases and ended his outing.

Cameron O’Brien was first out of the bullpen and gave up a sacrifice fly to score one. Cooper Robinson relieved O’Brien in the sixth and worked a scoreless inning of work before being greeted with a leadoff homer that brought the score to 7-3 Cats.

With the bases becoming loaded, Evan Byers inherited the jam and surrendered a single as well as a sacrifice fly that brought home two Jayhawks to get Kansas back within two.

Escaping the danger, Waldschmidt would hit a single that brought home James McCoy and brought the score to 8-5, which it would remain.

Kentucky returns home to take on Western Kentucky on Tuesday, Feb. 25, with first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m. ET at Kentucky Proud Park. It will air live on the SEC Network+.

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