Crowd, Dugout Boost Cats on Sunday

Crowd, Dugout Boost Cats on Sunday

by Tim Letcher

No. 8 Kentucky beat second-ranked Arkansas 7-4 on Sunday to take the rubber game of the key Southeastern Conference series. After the game, both UK head coach Nick Mingione and designated hitter Nick Lopez credited people who did not even play in the game.

“I give a lot of props to the (UK) dugout,” Lopez said. “Having that energy makes it a lot easier as a player. A shout out to our dugout for bringing the energy and keeping us alive.”

Mingione agreed that the dugout’s contribution to Sunday’s win was huge.

“I give our dugout a lot of credit,” Mingione said. “(UK Director of Player Development) Trevor Fitts actually met with them before the game and talked to them about ‘weird’. Maybe we’ve got to switch some things up in the dugout. They switched some things up in the dugout and it actually worked. I love the engagement of our dugout. I love the way they celebrate each other’s successes. It’s like no other.”

Both Mingione and starting pitcher Mason Moore also thought another group of people who did not play in the game came through in a big way on Sunday.

“It’s always nice having a big crowd, playing in front of the BBN,” Moore said. “It gives us all the confidence in the world to go out there and play our best when we have a big crowd to come out like this and support us.”

Mingione knew that the crowd of 6.024 at Kentucky Proud Park on Sunday made a huge difference.

“I just want to thank all of our fans,” Mingione said. “What an atmosphere. This is awesome. It’s just amazing. Awesome environment, so thankful for the Big Blue Nation.”

While the dugout and the crowd both helped the Cats, there were still plays that needed to be made on the field. The Cats made those plays on both Saturday and Sunday to rally and take the series over the nation’s second-ranked team. Lopez hit a two-run homer, Emilien Pitre hit a solo shot and Moore pitched five strong innings for the Cats.

“It’s an amazing feeling, coming back,” Lopez said. “Knowing that we’ve got a bunch of dogs on our team that, no matter what it looks like, we’re going to come back and win. There was never a doubt that we were going to come back and win the next two games.”

Mingione had a word that he thought described the Cats.

“Reslient, good word,” Mingione said. “I was happy for our team because you lose a Friday game then you come back and you’ve got to beat that team twice. That’s a really good team, their number two in the country for a reason. And we end up doing it, and that’s no easy task. They’ve got a great team, so do we. I’m proud of our guys for their fight.”

Kentucky holds the lead in the SEC standings with six games left to play. However, the Cats know that they must continue to be themselves if they are to win the SEC regular season title for the first time since 2006.

“We’ve just got to keep stacking them and keep going,” Lopez said. “The job isn’t done yet.”

On Sunday, the job got done with an assist from several people who didn’t make a single play in the game.

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