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Ryan Nicholson leads the way as Bat Cats conquer Auburn 6-5 in game one

Sydney Yonker
Kentucky infielder Ryan Nicholson catches the ball during the Kentucky vs Alabama baseball game on Saturday, April 6, 2024, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 7-0. Photo by Sydney Yonker | Staff

Ryan Nicholson’s late two-run home run propelled No. 8 Kentucky baseball (28-5 12-1 SEC) to a 6-5 win over Auburn (18-15 2-11 SEC). 

Nicholson led the Wildcats with three hits and three RBIs in the game one win. 

The Bat Cats wasted no time getting on the board in the first as Mitchell Daly singled to bring home Devin Burkes before Nicholson followed that up with a single to right field that scored Nick Lopez and gave the Cats a 2-0 lead after one.

The lefty slugger Nicholson returned to the plate in the top of the third and walked to load the bases. An error by the Tigers on a James McCoy ground ball allowed Burkes and Daly to score to give the Cats a 4-0 lead.

When Nicholson came back up to the dish in the top of the fifth, the game was now knotted up at 4-4 after a Tiger rally.

Nicholson notched his second hit of the game by beating a shifted infield for a single. Nolan McCarthy crushed a double into right center field and Nicholson was sent home, but a good rally by the Tigers nailed Nicholson at the plate.

After a few scoreless innings from both teams, Daly doubled to left field in the top of the seventh with two outs to bring up Nicholson.

Nicholson fouled off the first pitch he saw before taking a hanging breaking ball and sending it 444 feet into the Aubrun, Alabama, night.

After flipping his bat and admiring the blast, Nicholson trotted around the bases and when his Nike cleat touched home plate the Bat Cats were ahead 6-4.

The Tigers did not go away as Gavin Miller doubled and Mason Maners walked to leadoff the eighth, knocking reliever Travis Smith out of the game for Johnny Humme,l who struck out Cade Belyeu for the first out. Christian Hall singled to bring home Miller and shorten the Cats’ lead to 6-5. 

Deric Fabian hit a ball to Hummel, who fired it home to cut down Maners and keep the Cats’ lead before the pitcher forced Cale Stricklin to pop out to end the inning.

The bottom of the ninth was no easier for Hummel as Cooper Weiss and Ike Irish reached to leadoff the inning before Hummel struck out Cooper McMurray and Miller hit into a game-ending double play as Hummel secured the save, his third of the season.

Nicholson’s homer proved to be the game-winning swing for the Wildcats as they continue their best SEC start in program history.

The Wildcats will look to take the series in game two against Auburn on Friday, April 12, with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.

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Jonathon Bruner, Assistant Sports Editor

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