No. 2 Kentucky Opens SEC Tournament Wednesday

No. 2 Kentucky Opens SEC Tournament Wednesday

by Ben Slack

HOOVER, Ala. – The second-ranked Kentucky baseball team, fresh off clinching its second Southeastern Conference Regular Season Championship in school history last weekend, opens its annual stay in Hoover, Alabama this week, as it begins the 2024 SEC Tournament. The Wildcats, who earned one of four byes into the double-elimination portion of the tournament, will begin their run Wednesday, May 22 at 10:30 a.m. ET against [11] LSU in the first game of the day’s second round quadruple-header. Wednesday’s game will be a rematch of the 2023 Baton Rouge Super Regional, where the Tigers ended Kentucky’s season on their way to claiming a national championship.

Kentucky (39-12, 22-8 SEC) took two of three against Vanderbilt last weekend in the final series of the regular season, clinching a share of the 2024 SEC title with a 17-7 run-rule win on Friday night. The Cats, who shared the title with Tennessee, enter Hoover as the tournament’s third seed. Despite being one of only two teams with the league’s best record, the Volunteers own the head-to-head tiebreaker for the top seed and Arkansas was awarded the second seed due to its division championship, dropping Kentucky to the third slot. 2024 is the first time since 2017 that Kentucky has earned a bye into the second round of the tournament, when it also earned the No. 3 seed.

The 2024 SEC season has been a truly historic run for Kentucky, as they have rewritten the record book in terms of wins and success. The Wildcats new program-best marks in several team categories including wins (22), series wins (8), record against SEC West opponents (11-1), two-year SEC win total (38), best SEC start (15-1), and SEC road record (11-4).

Kentucky earned six honors in the conference’s annual postseason awards, headlined by Nick Mingione’s second SEC Coach of the Year honor. Mingione won the award for the first time since 2017, his first season at the program’s helm. Nick Lopez was honored with first team honors at the UTL/DH position, while Ryan Waldschmidt was named a second team outfielder. A league leading three Wildcats earned all-defensive team honors. Émilien Pitre earned the honor at second base for the second-consecutive year, while Mitch Daly was honored at third base and Mason Moore collected the laurel at pitcher.

The defending national champions, LSU (37-20, 13-17 SEC) qualified to Wednesday’s second round matchup with Kentucky by defeating [6] Georgia 9-1 in the First Round of the SEC Tournament on Tuesday. After a 3-12 start to league play, the Tigers charged down the stretch, winning four of their final five series. LSU is led by All-SEC 3B Tommy White, who finished the regular season with a .341 average, 23 home runs, and 63 RBI. Two Tiger pitchers were also named All-SEC, as RHP Luke Holman and LHP Griffin Herring were honored by the league’s coaches. Holman, the leading starter for LSU, finished the year with a team-leading 2.73 ERA and an 8-3 record. Herring, the LSU closer, closed his regular season campaign with 1.99 ERA, a 3-1 record, and six saves.

No matter the result of Wednesday’s contest, the Wildcats are guaranteed a second game in Hoover on Thursday, May 23. If they shall win against LSU, Kentucky will face the winner of game six between Arkansas and either Alabama or South Carolina at 5:30 p.m. ET. If the Cats were to fall to the Tigers, they would play the loser of the Razorbacks and the Crimson Tide/Gamecocks at 10:30 a.m. ET. The first 16 games of the SEC Tournament will be televised on the SEC Network, with Sunday’s championship game featured on ESPN2. All Kentucky games will be available via audio broadcast through the UK Sports Network.

[3] No. 2 Kentucky vs. [11] LSU
10:30 a.m. ET; Hoover, Ala. (Hoover Metropolitan Stadium)
Radio: UK Sports Network | Television: SEC Network

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