Mentality Change Leads to Weekend Sweep for Baseball Cats

Mentality Change Leads to Weekend Sweep for Baseball Cats

by Tim Letcher

Last weekend at Kentucky Proud Park, the UK baseball team lost the first two games of a three-game series to Kennesaw State before rallying to win Sunday’s finale.

Oh, what a difference a week makes. The Sunday victory was the first of what is now a five-game winning streak after Kentucky beat Murray State on Tuesday, then completed the Southeastern Conference sweep over Georgia on Sunday with a 12-2 win.

After falling behind 2-0 in the second inning of Sunday’s game, Kentucky rallied to score five runs in the third inning, then two more in the fourth.

In the third inning, the Cats did all of their damage with two outs. Nick Lopez doubled to left center field, knocking in Devin Burkes and Emilien Pitre to tie the game. Mitchell Daly then tripled off the top of the wall in right field, scoring Lopez. The next batter was Ryan Nicholson, who hit a towering home run to right field toward Alumni Drive, extending the UK lead to 5-2.

Pitre helped the Cats add to the lead in the fourth, hitting a 426-foot bomb to right that scored Grant Smith, making it 7-2 Cats. Kentucky would add four more runs in the bottom of the fifth to extend the lead to 11-2. Nicholson added another Big Blue Bomb in the bottom of the sixth to give UK a 12-2 advantage.

UK head coach Nick Mingione loved how his team responded after facing adversity last weekend.

“I thought our team was a team all weekend, from Friday until the last pitch on Sunday,” Mingione said. “And I’m really proud of them because a weekend ago, that was maybe not the case. For them, they made a commitment, and it started on Tuesday. Just a fun week all the way around. To be around them, to watch them celebrate each other’s successes. Fun week.”

Pitre, who had two hits and drove in three runs, knows that the Cats must continue to believe in what they are doing.

“We believe. Coach Minge talked about that last weekend,” Pitre said. “We didn’t feel like we were believing those first two games when we were down. Now, everyone is just believing that the Cats can do it.”

Kentucky got production from every spot in the lineup, leading to the 12-run outburst. Mingione liked how so many people contributed to the cause on Sunday.

“You don’t score that many runs without getting production up and down the lineup,” Mingione said. “Every guy in our lineup either scored a run or knocked in a run. To have length and depth like that was crucial.”

Meanwhile on the mound, junior pitcher Mason Moore was cruising. After giving up a leadoff double in the top of the fourth, Moore retired the last nine batters he faced. In earning his fourth win of the season against no losses, Moore went six innings, allowing just three hits, two earned runs and two walks while striking out a career-high eight batters. Mingione was impressed with Moore’s effort on Sunday.

“Great game by Mason,” Mingione said. “To go six innings, give up two runs with the wind blowing the way it was against an offense like that.”

After a not-so-great weekend last weekend, the Cats have turned a corner over the last seven days. It’s a trend that Mingione and the Cats hope to continue.

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