Walk This Way: Baseball Cats Score in Various Ways in Win Over Miami

Walk This Way: Baseball Cats Score in Various Ways in Win Over Miami

by Tim Letcher

On Tuesday night, the Kentucky baseball offense was unable to get much going through the first six innings against Miami. The Cats had managed just two runs on two hits and found themselves in a 5-2 hole.

However, the Cats put together a very Kentucky-type rally in the seventh inning. It started with a Nick Lopez strikeout before Mitchell Daly singled to center field. Pinch hitter Devin Burkes doubled down the left field line and the Cats had two runners in scoring position with just one out.

That was the good news. The bad news was, to that point, Kentucky was just 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position in the game. So, the Cats found another way to score.

After Nolan McCarthy struck out, Ryan Waldschmidt walked to load the bases. What happened over the course of the next four batters showed that these Cats can come up with creative ways to score runs.

Grant Smith was hit by a pitch, scoring Daly. Patrick Herrera then walked, scoring Burkes and getting UK within a run. Kentucky tied the game when Emilien Pitre was hit by a pitch, scoring pinch runner Ty Crittenberger to tie the game at 5-5.

Next, Ryan Nicholson walked on a 3-2 pitch, scoring Smith to give the Cats the lead. Then Lopez, batting for the second time in the inning, laced a single to left center field, scoring Pitre and Herrera to give UK an 8-5 lead. Kentucky would go on to win 9-5.

UK head coach Nick Mingione liked how his team was able to put runs on the board despite not having their best hitting night.

“Give our guys a lot of credit,” Mingione said. “Fought back, they really wanted to win. It would be really easy to go, man, it’s not our night. But we don’t do that.”

While it may seem easy to score against a pitching staff that’s having trouble finding the strike zone, it can also work in the other direction, according to Mingione.

“Sometimes, when pitchers are throwing that many balls, it kind of takes you out of your rhythm a little bit, too,” Mingione said.

For the game, UK managed only six hits. However, the Cats walked a whopping 14 times and were hit by five pitches. The 14 walks were the most for a Kentucky squad since the Cats walked 15 times against UT Martin in 2007.

UK’s Patrick Herrera did not have an official at-bat in the game but was on base six times. He walked four times and was hit by two pitches. He’s the first UK player to walk four times in a game since Ryan Johnson did so on May 7, 2019, against Indiana. Herrera was just trying to do his job in the leadoff spot.

“I’m just trying to set the table in the leadoff spot and get on base any way I can,” Herrera said. “Luckily, I was able to do that tonight.”

Herrera knows that the Cats are not what Southeastern Conference teams generally look like.

“We’re not a typical SEC team that relies on extra base hits or home runs,” Herrera said. “Being able to get on base and keep pushing is really special for our team.”

Bottom line, the Cats were able to take advantage of what was given to them and they never gave up, despite trailing for much of the game. That’s what most pleased Mingione.

“A lot of good things to take away,” Mingione said. “But really, they’re fight is, woo, it’s good.”

That fight helped the Cats move to 21-4 on the season with an SEC road series at Ole Miss upcoming this weekend.

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