'Awesome' Crowd Lifts Baseball Cats on Friday

'Awesome' Crowd Lifts Baseball Cats on Friday

by Tim Letcher

As the third-ranked Kentucky baseball team prepared for a huge weekend series against No. 2 Tennessee, the Cats were hoping that the Big Blue Nation would show up in a big way.

On Friday night, the BBN did just that. In a big way.

In front of a record crowd of 6,922 fans, Kentucky came from behind to top Tennessee 5-3, taking game one of the crucial Southeastern Conference series.

As the Cats rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, the crowd definitely had an impact, according to Kentucky head coach Nick Mingione.

“I was so thankful for the BBN, that was amazing,” Mingione said. “And you could feel them late in the game. I’m on third base and I’m like, OK, they are willing something good to happen. I really believe that. And give our players credit, they capitalized. So thankful for all of these people and really proud of our players.”

The players felt it too, according to outfielder Nolan McCarthy.

“You can see how it can sway people,” McCarthy said. “Even on balls and strikes, we’ve got people screaming, it’s awesome. I’m just really thankful for everyone who came out. It’s just an awesome, awesome feeling playing for these people who love us and we love them.”

Mingione knows that, in the past, the Cats have had big crowds and may have come up short in their performance. He was happy that his team gave the fans what they wanted on Friday night.

“There’s been times when we’ve had big crowds and we haven’t cashed in,” Mingione said. “And I thought it was so important. This was absolutely an opportunity where we needed to cash in, especially in that environment.”

Outfielder Ryan Waldschmidt, who got Kentucky on the board with a solo home run in the third inning, was happy that the Cats could please the crowd.

“It’s awesome. I think they said close to 7,000, and this is just the regular season,” Waldschmidt said. “Just to see all of these fans out here and to give them what they really came to see, it’s just awesome. I hope they keep coming back and keep coming to watch us play.”

On Saturday, another huge crowd is expected at Kentucky Proud Park, something that Mingione is thrilled to see.

“I’m told that tomorrow is already sold out and they’re probably going to have to turn people away,” he said. “I’m so thankful (for the crowd).”

Mingione also thinks it’s good for not only Kentucky, but for the SEC, to have exciting baseball atmospheres like the one in Lexington on Friday.

“This is good, not only for us, for our league, it’s good for the state, it’s good for the SEC to have an environment and an atmosphere like this,” Mingione said. “We needed it and I feel like we’ve earned it.”

On Friday night, the Cats rode the momentum of a record crowd to a huge win over Tennessee. UK hopes to carry that momentum, along with the huge crowds, through the weekend.


Related Stories

View all