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EMBRACING WEIRD: Kentucky baseball’s 2024 season retrospection

Cole Parke
Kentucky’s bench clears after the winning strikeout was made. Kentucky beat Oregon State 3-2 to win the Lexington Super Regional and advance to the 2024 College World Series on Monday, June 10, 2024, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Cole Parke | Staff

When looking back at Kentucky baseball in 2024, the short way to describe the team is historic, but the long way to describe the team is simply weird.

The season began on the road with a dominating sweep over USC Upstate.

Kentucky outfielder Ryan Waldschmidt celebrates at second during the Kentucky vs Lipscomb baseball game on Friday, Mar. 1, 2024, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky, Kentucky won 7-4. Photo by Sydney Yonker | Staff (Sydney Yonker)

The Bat Cats then breezed through the non-conference part of their schedule as they had a 12-1 record going into their final non-conference series at home against Kennesaw State.

This series was anything but a breeze for the Wildcats, however, as they lost the first two games and the series before salvaging the third and final game.

After this series, the season changed completely as things started to “get weird.” 

The first change was seen beginning with the team’s next game, which was a mid-week matchup against Murray State, when pink hats and a series of different chants stemmed from a now very vocal and passionate Kentucky dugout.

After a comeback victory in that Murray State game, the Wildcats welcomed the Georgia Bulldogs into Kentucky Proud Park for SEC opening weekend and swept them in convincing fashion.

This would be a predecessor for things to come in SEC play for the Bat Cats as they jumped out to a stunning 15-1 start in conference play, which even the most optimistic of fans couldn’t have seen coming.

As the dugout antics grew into a Spider-Man meme home plate celebration, rally cap towers and various bucket hats, the team kept rolling into its final series of the season against Vanderbilt where it made history twice in two games.

With its game one victory, the team clinched its 21st victory in conference play, which was a new program record.

Kentucky pitcher Robert Hogan pitches the ball during the Kentucky vs Tennessee baseball game on Saturday, April 20, 2024 at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky lost 4-9. Photo by Sydney Yonker | Staff (Sydney Yonker)

Then, with its game two victory, Kentucky captured a share of the Regular Season SEC Championship for the first time since 2006. 

After dropping the final game of the series to Vanderbilt, postseason play began for the Wildcats in Hoover, Alabama, at the SEC Tournament.

This tournament did not go the Wildcats’ way as they lost their first game 11-0 to LSU before bouncing back and defeating Arkansas 9-6 before being eliminated by the South Carolina Gamecocks by a score of 6-5.

The Wildcats then turned the page to the NCAA Tournament, which began with the Lexington Regional.

Kentucky was matched up with Western Michigan in its first game and it won 10-8 before getting a 6-1 win over Illinois and a 5-0 win against Indiana State to sweep the regional and host a Super Regional for the first time in program history.

In the Lexington Super Regional, the Bat Cats were matched up with Oregon State and they dominated them in the first game by a score of 10-0.

Now one win away from a Men’s College World Series appearance for the first time in program history, the Wildcats defeated Oregon State 3-2 to punch their ticket to Omaha.

The historic and magical season continued in the team’s first game in the Men’s College World Series, which it won in 10 innings thanks to a Mitchell Daly walk-off home run to take down NC State by a score of 5-4.

This primed the Cats for a matchup with the Texas A&M Aggies for the first time this season, and the Aggies bested Kentucky by a score of 5-1.

Now facing elimination for the first time in the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats took on the Florida Gators for the fourth time of the season and the Gators came out on top 15-4, ending Kentucky’s season.

In a long and storied season for Kentucky baseball that had several firsts and so much history made in between all the weirdness, Big Blue Nation was treated to a season they’d never forget for years to come.

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About the Contributors
Jonathon Bruner, Assistant Sports Editor
Cole Parke, Sports Editor

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