Cats advancing to College World Series for the first time in school history

Published 9:56 am Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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Kentucky is going to Omaha.

The Wildcats, the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, advanced to the College World Series for the first time in school history with a 3-2 win over three-time national champion Oregon State.

For the second straight night, Kentucky shattered the attendance record at Kentucky Proud Park, despite a late start and a game that lasted into early Sunday morning. A crowd of 7,558 witnessed the Wildcats’ historic feat.

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“You guys (the fans) have been amazing the past few weeks,” Kentucky coach Nick Mingione said. “The kids have worked so hard for this moment.”

Kentucky (45-14) swept the best-of-three series and did so by limiting the Beavers to just three hits and two runs in the historic sweep.

The Wildcats survived a threat after Oregon State tried to stage a two-out rally in the bottom of the ninth with runners at the corners, but senior Johnny Hummel got the final out on a strikeout to seal the deal.

The score was tied at 2-2 in the top of the seventh but the hosts used creativity on the base paths to grab the lead for good when Nolan McCarthy scored from second on a wild pitch on third strike.

McCarthy opened the inning with a double after Oregon State starter Jacob Kmatz had retired the previous eight batters. McCarthy led the UK offense with two hits and drove in two of the team’s three runs in the contest.

Kmatz pitched six innings and scattered four hits and scattered four hits. He struck out eight batters and walked just two before giving way to Nelson Keijo in the seventh inning.

Kentucky starter Mason Moore pitched three and one-third innings and didn’t allow a hit, but served up six walks, including four in the fourth inning. Moore, who had four strikeouts, walked four batters in the fourth and walked in a pair of runs before Cameron O’Brien came on in relief with the bases loaded and one out. O’Brien fanned the two batters he faced in the inning after the Beavers tied the score at 2-2.

Oregon State, which had just one hit in the first 14 innings of the series, struggled against Kentucky’s pitching staff even while playing in desperation mode. The Beavers didn’t get their first hit of the contest until Trent Caraway led off the seventh inning with a single.

Moore, O’Brien, Hogan and Ryan Hagenow and Hummel combined on a one-hitter and 13 strikeouts.

Kentucky will open play in the College World Series Friday against the winner of the N.C. State-Georgia Super Regional.

Cats blank Beavers

Kentucky made history twice in one night.

The Wildcats notched their first Super Regional victory with a 10-0 rout of Oregon State Saturday night before a record crowd of 7,441 at Kentucky Proud Park. Kentucky, the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, was one win away from reaching the College World Series for the first time in school history.

“It was a great night,” Kentucky coach Nick Mingione said. “It was an unbelievable environment and unbelievable energy.”

Kentucky starter Trey Pooser and reliever Jackson Nove combined on a one-hitter. Pooser threw seven innings and gave up the lone hit, a single in the second inning and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth after hitting the lead-off hitter and a throwing error put runners at first and second base. He struck out two of the next four batters he faced and got out of the inning on a 5-4 putout at second base. He finished with eight strikeouts and walked four.

Mingione said the outing by Pooser was “an amazing performance” on the big stage.

“He picked the perfect time to throw one of his best games in a Kentucky uniform,” Mingione said.

Nove threw the final two innings and retired all six batters he faced. He fanned four batters and threw 18 strikes on 24 pitches.

Kentucky led 3-0 going into the bottom of the seventh but had a breakthrough inning to put the game away. The Wildcats crossed the plate seven times in the inning on two hits, including a two-run shot by Ryan Nicholson. The homer by Nicholson was his third in the past three games.