Kentucky Aces Home Opener Against Evansville
It was a night of firsts at Kentucky Proud Park as the Wildcats aced its first home test of the 2023 season with a 6-3 victory over Evansville on Tuesday.
Redshirt freshman Travis Smith earned the first victory of his career, sophomore Mason Moore the first save of his and five different players drove in runs to spark UK (3-1) to a mostly pressure-free win. Smith, a Walton, Kentucky native, made his collegiate debut after sitting out last season recovering from arm surgery during high school. He pitched 3.0 innings, allowing one run on three hits. Moore gave up just one hit and struck out four as he held Evansville scoreless over the final three innings.
Sophomore Emilien Pitre had three more hits and is 7-of-10 his past two games, while senior Hunter Gilliam made two sparkling defensive plays at first base and senior Isaiah Byars picked up his first three base knocks in a UK uniform.
The Cats utilized three sacrifice bunts, three stolen bases, two bunt hits and five hit batsmen to cause the “chaos” on the bases they aim to play with this season. On the mound, the pitching staff has a 1.54 earned run average with 39 strikeouts in four games.
- UK Coach Nick Mingione is in his seventh season at the helm and now owns a 179-130 career record.
- Kentucky is 112-37 in non-conference games under Coach Mingione.
- UK is 98-15 vs. non-Power Five opponents.
- UK pitchers have struck out 39 and walked just seven through three games.
- UK’s starting pitchers this season: 19 IP, 3 R, 19 K
- UK’s bullpen has allowed just three runs in 16 IP.
- Catcher Devin Burkes currently has reached base safely in 17 consecutive games dating to the 2022 season.
- First baseman Hunter Gilliam has started 117 consecutive games at the collegiate level.
- Infielder Grant Smith has started all 120 games of his collegiate career.
- He has been hit by a pitch four times in four games.
- Infielder Emilien Pitre went 3-for-5 and no has seven hits in his last 10 AB.
- Infielder Isaiah Byars had the first three hits of his UK career.
- Starting pitcher Travis Smith made his collegiate debut, earning the win.
- Sophomore Mason Moore earned his first collegiate save with 3.0 scoreless innings.
- The following players made their debut for Kentucky: Zach Hise and Travis Smith.
Kentucky begins a three-game series vs. Wright State on Friday at 4 p.m. ET at Kentucky Proud Park. The game will be streamed on SECN+. The radio call will be on the UK Sports Network.