Baseball, Mate! No. 19 Kentucky Hosts No. 3 Florida

Baseball, Mate! No. 19 Kentucky Hosts No. 3 Florida


Story by Tim Letcher

Just one year ago, the Kentucky baseball team was trying to fight its way into the Southeastern Conference Tournament. This season, the Cats don’t have to worry about going to Hoover, that bid is already secured. The 2023 UK baseball team has its eyes set on even bigger accomplishments.

It’s all part of the progression, or taking the next step, according to UK head coach Nick Mingione.

“There’s always another level. Much like our players, they want to get drafted and they want to go to professional baseball,” Mingione said. “They start at ‘A’ ball, then they want to go to double ‘A’, then they want to get to triple ‘A’, then they want to make it to the big leagues, then you want to stay in the big leagues, then you want be an all-star, then you want to be a Hall of Famer. There’s always another level. Our season and our teams are no different.”

Nearly every SEC team will be looking to take a step forward in that progression this weekend, the final one of the regular season.

“When you look at just about every team in our league, this weekend, we’re trying to get to that next level,” Mingione said. “Whether that’s make the tournament, whether that’s be a regional host, whether that’s be a national seed or the one seed, there’s always another level.”

Kentucky (35-15, 15-12) has several of those accomplishments on the line this week and weekend as the Cats host No. 3 Florida for a three-game set at Kentucky Proud Park.

The Cats are still hoping to get one of the four byes in next week’s SEC Tournament. That would put UK automatically into the double-elimination portion of the tournament, which is very important, according to Mingione.

“Obviously, if you don’t have to play on Tuesday, that’s another less arm that you have to use and you’re guaranteed to play a couple of games,” Mingione said. “So, to be in that top four is what every team in our league would want to do and it’s extremely important, especially from the pitching side.”

UK is also playing for placement in the NCAA Tournament. The Cats will certainly be in the field, that’s not the question. Whether Kentucky earns the right to host a regional and/or is designated as a national seed remains to be seen.

Florida is 40-12 and 18-9 in league play on the season and also finds itself in a strong position for the postseason. After sweeping Vanderbilt last weekend, the Gators appear to be on their way to being a national seed.

The Florida pitching staff has been impressive all season and anchors the team. Brandon Sproat (7-2, 4.44 ERA), Hurston Waldrep (6-3, 4.99) and Jac Caglianone (5-2, 4.47) figure to be the starters this weekend for UF. Caglianone is a two-way player who has slugged 27 home runs on the season. Mingione knows just how good the Gators are.

“Super talented. Their rotation, guys will be up into the upper 90s and maybe even touch 100 (miles per hour),” Mingione said. “They have power. Super talented all the way around. They’re playing as well as anyone in the country right now.”

Kentucky will counter with redshirt freshman Travis Smith (4-2, 4.81) on Thursday and Zack Lee (4-2, 3.54) on Friday. The Cats Saturday starter is to be determined. Mingione likes where his pitching staff is as the postseason approaches.

“I’m super thankful because (Seth) Chavez and Logan Martin threw this week and they’re back healthy,” Mingione said. “So, I feel like we’re to a spot now where we have all of our pieces.”

Kentucky is coming off a 10-0 win over Tennessee in Knoxville on Sunday. In that game, the Cats got five home runs, each from a different player, on the way to an easy win.

The Cats are looking to take that next step, beginning this weekend against a very talented Florida squad. The games on Thursday and Friday will begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, with Saturday’s series finale slated for a 2 p.m. first pitch. All three games can be seen on SEC Network Plus.


Thursday, May 18 vs. #3 Florida

6:30 p.m. ET; Lexington, Ky. (Kentucky Proud Park)

TV: SECN+; Radio: UK Sports Network, 630 AM WLAP (locally)

#19 UK (35-15, 15-12); #3 Florida (40-12, 18-9)

UK – RHP Travis Smith (4-2, 4.81); FLA – RHP Hurston Waldrep (6-3, 5.00)

Friday, May 19 vs. #3 Florida

6:30 p.m. ET; Lexington, Ky. (Kentucky Proud Park)

TV: SECN+; Radio: UK Sports Network, 630 AM WLAP (locally)

#19 UK (35-15, 15-12); #3 Florida (40-12, 18-9)

UK – RHP Zack Lee (4-2, 3.54); FLA – RHP Brandon Sproat (7-2, 4.44)

Saturday, May 20 vs. #3 Florida

2 p.m. ET; Lexington, Ky. (Kentucky Proud Park)

TV: SECN+; Radio: UK Sports Network, 630 AM WLAP (locally)

#19 UK (35-15, 15-12); #3 Florida (40-12, 18-9)

UK – TBA; FLA – LHP Jac Caglianone (5-2, 4.47)



When: Friday, May 19 at 5:45 p.m.

The following Wildcats will participate in Senior Day and have no collegiate eligibility remaining after the 2023 season:

Tyler Bosma

Isaiah Byars

Alex Degen

Jase Felker

Ryder Giles

Hunter Gilliam

Jackson Gray

Chase Stanke

Darren Williams

Additionally, three Cats and two student managers will receive graduate recognition (these players have eligibility remaining should they choose to use it):

Kendall Ewell

Zack Lee

Logan Martin

Kendall Roller*

Matthew Huether*





  • Enter to win a 50-inch Smart TV. Fans can enter the raffle by visiting the promo zone at Kentucky Proud Park.  Must be present at time of drawing to win.


  • Senior Night. Join the Cats in celebrating our 2023 Graduates and Senior Class.
  • Throwback Hat Giveaway. The first 500 UK fans through the gates at KPP will receive a Script Kentucky baseball ballcap.  Gates open at 5:30pm, limit one hat per person.


  • Senior Class Trading Cards – it’s our last trading card giveaway of the season.  Stop by the promo zone to pick up our Senior Class trading cards.  Limit one per person, quantities are limited.
  • Fan Appreciation Day – Stick around throughout the game for pop-up giveaways and contests to thank the Big Blue Nation for their support.

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