Homers and Robbery: Kentucky Staves off Elimination

Homers and Robbery: Kentucky Staves off Elimination

HOOVER, Ala. – Faced with potential elimination and the left arm of likely National Pitcher of the Year Hagen Smith, Kentucky scored two first inning runs and never looked back in clubbing its way past Arkansas 9-6 on Thursday morning at the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

In the process, the Wildcats (40-13) became the first team this season to pin a loss on Smith’s previously pristine record. UK now will advance to face the loser on Thursday night’s LSU-South Carolina game at 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT on Friday.

The Cats got off to a fast start in its second straight game against an All-SEC pitcher, scoring a pair on the first in chaotic fashion. Ryan Waldschmidt walked, advanced to third on an errant pickoff attempt and single, then scored on Devin Burkes’ sacrifice squeeze bunt. Emilien Pitre then stole third, drawing an off-line throw that went into the outfield, allowing him to race home.

Then came the thunder.

Ryan Nicholson hit a ball into the trees in right-center and Waldschmidt destroyed a pair of 420-foot shots to give the Cats breathing room.

On the flip side, Trey Pooser set the tone with 5.0 shutout innings on the mound and centerfielder Nolan McCarthy robbed a home run with a leaping grab over the wall to highlight a sensational game on the defensive side.



  • Kentucky now is 40-13 in 2024.
  • Kentucky is 24-10 in day games.
  • Kentucky is 7-4 in May.
  • Kentucky is 14-5 vs. ranked teams and 22-7 vs. Quad 1 opponents.
  • Kentucky owns the most Quad 1 wins in Division I.
  • Kentucky reaches 40 wins in a season for the eighth time in school history.
  • Kentucky went 3-1 this season vs. Arkansas.
    • It becomes the first team to hang Hagen Smith with a loss (previously 9-0 this season).
  • UK Coach Nick Mingione is in his eighth season at the helm and now owns a 256-163 career record.
  • Mingione needs three victories to become the second-winningest coach in school history.
  • UK is 47-45 in the month of May under Coach Mingione.
  • Mingione now is 4-9 vs. Arkansas.
  • Junior INF Emilien Pitre went 2-for-3 with three runs, two stolen bases and a walk.
    • He extended his streak of games reaching base safely to 30.
    • He leapfrogged Ryan Waldschmidt for thew team lead in stolen bases with 24.
      • His 24 stolen bases are the most for a UK player in the Mingione era.
      • He has 44 career steals, the 9th-most in UK history.
    • Junior Ryan Waldschmidt went 2-for-4 with three runs, three RBI, two home runs and a walk.
      • He now has 13 homers this season.
      • He has two multi-HR games in 2024.
      • He has homered four times in the past five games.
    • Senior Ryan Nicholson hit his 18th home run of the season.
      • Only Kole Cottam (19, 2018) has hit more in a season in the Mingione era.
      • Nicholson has 51 career home runs.
      • 16 of his 18 HR this season have been vs. SEC opponents.
    • Junior Devin Burkes went 2-for-2 with a run, an RBI, a triple, a HBP, two steals and a SAC bunt.
      • He is 17-of-19 on steals this season.
    • Senior Trey Pooser earned the win five shutout innings.
      • He allowed three hits, struck out three and walked one.



Kentucky will face LSU or South Carolina on Friday in the SEC Tournament in elimination portion of the event. It will play Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET/3 CT.

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