No. 12 Kentucky baseball survives Lexington Regional, advances to Super Regionals in Baton Rouge


Jack Weaver

Kentucky Wildcats pitcher Mason Moore (20) pitches the ball during the Kentucky vs. Evansville home opener baseball game on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 6-3. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Cole Parke, Sports Editor

No. 12 Kentucky baseball survived the Lexington Regional on Monday, earning a rematch with No. 5 LSU in the Super Regionals in Baton Rouge.

The Bat Cats kicked off the regional as the host and No. 1 seed, shutting out MAC Champions Ball State 4-0 on Friday. The double-elimination nature of the tournament saw the Cardinals fall to the losers’ portion of the bracket, facing off against the No. 2 seeded West Virginia, which was defeated by Indiana on Friday night.

West Virginia conquered Ball State on Saturday afternoon, ending the Cardinals’ postseason run and giving the Mountaineers a date with the loser of the Cats and Hoosiers.

UK’s first matchup against Indiana was close, with both teams entering the seventh inning tied 1-1. Kentucky would take a 3-1 lead in the top of the seventh before a disastrous bottom half of the inning saw the Hoosiers score three.

Kentucky Wildcats head coach Nick Mingione talks to reporters after the No. 18 Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky baseball game on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, at Nick Denes Field in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Kentucky won 10-8. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff (Jack Weaver)

One more run in the bottom of the eighth saw Indiana earn a trip to the finals with a 5-3 win.

“We’ve had our backs against the wall before,” Kentucky head coach Nick Mingione said. “West Virginia and Indiana are really good and well-coached teams. They got two more wins then we got a chance for an opportunity to take a picture (in Omaha).”

Requiring three consecutive wins, two of which would need to come against Indiana, to advance, Kentucky had an uphill battle ahead of it entering Sunday.

Starting things off against West Virginia in the afternoon, the Bat Cats rolled, shutting out WVU 10-0 to send the Mountaineers home disappointed and earn a rematch with the Hoosiers.

With IU looking to advance in the night game, Kentucky once again held strong, blowing out the Hoosiers 16-6 to force a game seven.

With No. 5 LSU claiming victory in the Baton Rouge Regional, both teams prepared to play with a trip to Louisiana in mind.

The Hoosiers got out to a quick start on Kentucky’s starter, graduate student Darren Williams, scoring in the top of the first.

Kentucky responded promptly, scoring twice in the bottom of the inning, but things would again look dire for Williams in the second when the Hoosiers loaded the bases with no outs.

Williams managed to escape the inning with just one run allowed and continued to remain strong until Mason Moore entered the game in his relief in the fifth inning.

Unfortunately for the Cats, Indiana held strong as well and neither team would score a run until the bottom of the sixth inning when Kentucky took a 4-2 lead.

Moore would finish the game, earning the final out he needed to send Kentucky to Baton Rouge and kicking off the famous baseball dog pile in front of a program record-breaking 6,796 fans..

“Whenever Mason comes into the game, I’m calm,” Williams said about his teammate. “He’s got some of the best pitches in the entire country, not just this team, not just this league, not just this tournament. I think he’s going to be a big leaguer one day.”

With the win Kentucky’s miraculous season continues, with the Cats due to travel to face LSU in a three-game series.