Cats Respond, Rally to Beat Murray State

Cats Respond, Rally to Beat Murray State

by Tim Letcher

On Tuesday night, the Kentucky baseball team found itself in a really tough situation early in its game against Murray State. After the top of the third inning, the Cats were behind 6-0 and in need of a rally, just to get back within striking distance.

It was reminiscent of UK’s losses to Kennesaw State on Friday and Saturday of last weekend’s series. In those games, the Cats fell behind but were unable to respond, falling on both occasions.

After being challenged by head coach Nick Mingione to mount a better response, UK scored nine runs over the next two innings to take the lead, one that the Cats would never relinquish in a 10-6 win over the Racers.

Mingione was pleased with his team’s response on Tuesday night.

“We challenged them pretty good on Sunday. Obviously, we fell behind on Friday and Saturday and we challenged them to respond better when we were behind,” Mingione said. “We told them, true teams believe. Their fight, their competitiveness, you saw them tonight. When they play with that energy, that effort and that edge, we’re a really good baseball team. We needed that. We needed to be able to come back from a deficit like that to prove to ourselves and they did it.”

It was the biggest deficit that a Kentucky team had overcome since rallying from eight runs down to beat Western Michigan 13-12 on Feb. 26, 2022.

Devin Burkes got things started with an RBI single, scoring Ryan Waldschmidt to get the Cats on the board. Nick Lopez followed with the second of his five hits, scoring Emilien Pitre to make it 6-2. Burkes would score on a Mitchell Daly sacrifice bunt to make it 6-3 and Lopez scored when Ryan Nicholson laid down a sacrifice bunt, getting UK within two, 6-4.

In the fourth inning, Kentucky would strike again. Burkes hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Waldschmidt to get the Cats within one. Lopez then singled to center field, his third hit of the night, scoring Pitre to tie the game. Daly singled to right to score Lopez and give UK its first lead. Then, the big blow came when Nicholson hit a bomb to deep right field, making it 9-6 Cats.

Nicholson knows that the Cats are never out of any contest.

“We can come back,” Nicholson said. “We know that our pitching staff is really good and we know that our offense is a sleeping giant. We just really fed off each other. Hits are contagious and in that (fourth) inning, you saw that.”

UK added a run in the fifth when Nolan McCarthy tripled, then scored on a Waldschmidt sacrifice fly. And in the eighth, Lopez tripled for his fifth hit of the night, then scored on a Daly groundout to close out the scoring.

Lopez’s five hits are the most for any UK player since Jase Felker had five against Georgia in March of 2022.

On Tuesday, the Cats showed that, even when falling into a deep hole early, they are never out of any game.

Related Stories

View all