Kentucky baseball continues winning streak, defeats Murray State 6-2


Jack Weaver

Kentucky Wildcats pitcher Travis Smith (33) pitches the ball 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

Cole Parke, Sports Editor

Kentucky baseball continued its winning ways on Tuesday, defeating Murray State 6-2 at Kentucky Proud Park.

Redshirt freshman Travis Smith got the start for Kentucky on the mound while the Racers opted to throw freshman Ethan Lyke.

The Wildcats wasted no time getting on the board in the first inning, being boosted by a three-up-three-down inning by the Racers in the top half with Smith adding a strikeout in the process.

Senior Jase Felker recorded the first hit of the game with a single up the middle before a two-run home run by sophomore Emilien Pitre scored both Felker and himself.

The Racers got one back in the second inning despite Smith retiring the first two batters of the inning, earning a second strikeout in the process.

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)

Unfortunately for Smith, Murray State infielder Riley Hawthorne recorded the Racers’ first hit of the game and, after Seth Gardner walked, catcher Ethan Krizen singled through the left side to drive Hawthorne home.

Smith managed to escape the inning without any further damage done but was unable to suppress the Racers again in the third inning, with Murray State tying the game after Brennan McCullough sent a triple down the right field line to drive home Dustin Mercer, who had been walked prior.

The fourth inning was a much better tale for the redshirt freshman arm though, with Smith adding two strikeouts as he retired the side in order. Unfortunately for Kentucky head coach Nick Mingione, his side would also go down in order in the inning as well.

Heading into the top of the fifth inning, Mingione opted to pull Smith in favor of sophomore Jackson Nove, who would eventually claim the win for Kentucky on the mound.

Smith finished the day with four innings pitched, three hits allowed for two earned runs, six strikeouts and three walks for a 3.27 ERA.

Nove, picking up where Smith left off, promptly struck out the first batter he saw before retiring the side in order.

He continued to work his magic in the sixth, retiring the side in order once again, before Pitre and redshirt senior Hunter Gilliam got on base in the second half of the inning to force Murray State to make a pitching change of its own.

Unfortunately for redshirt junior Thomas Mcnabb, he would not be able to prevent the Cats from retaking the lead after a throwing error by his catcher saw Pitre steal third and make his way home to score an unearned run.

Kentucky Wildcats outfielder/infielder Ryan Waldschmidt (21) looks over to the bullpen 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)

Neither side recorded a hit in the seventh inning with both pitchers combining for five strikeouts. 

Kentucky made a pitching change in the top of the eighth, sending in sophomore Mason Moore to end Nove’s day with three innings pitched, no hits allowed, one walk and three strikeouts against 10 batters.

Moore retired the side in order in the eighth, setting the Wildcats up for a game-defining bottom half of the inning that saw them double their total number of runs.

Catcher Devin Burkes and Pitre both singled to start the inning before Gilliam notched a two-RBI triple to left field to boost the team ahead by three runs.

Scrambling, the Racers opted to send in graduate student Ben Krizen to pitch, but the veteran arm promptly gave up a single to sophomore Ryan Waldschmidt that scored Gilliam for Kentucky’s third run of the inning.

While Krizen managed to strike out two to end the inning, the damage had already been done as Moore retired the side in order in the top of the ninth to earn his third save of the season.

With the win Kentucky looks to return to action with a quick turnaround on Wednesday, March 8, against Ohio University. The first pitch against the Bobcats is scheduled for 4 p.m. EST from Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky.