[2] Kentucky Faces [10] NC State in Men’s College World Series Debut

[2] Kentucky Faces [10] NC State in Men’s College World Series Debut

In the 77th edition of the Men’s College World Series, [2] Kentucky will finally make its first appearance as the Wildcats’ debut run at Charles Schwab Field Omaha will commence on Saturday, June 15 against [10] NC State at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Kentucky (45-14, 22-8 SEC) advanced to the pinnacle of college baseball by defeating [15] Oregon State twice in the Super Regional round. After taking the series opener in a dominating 10-0 victory, the Cats clinched their ticket to Omaha with a gritty, 3-2 win that concluded after midnight on Monday morning. Kentucky has won all five games of its NCAA Tournament games this season, sweeping through the Lexington Regional and Lexington Super Regional.

2024 has already been a historic season for SEC Coach of the Year Nick Mingione’s Wildcats, who have already tied the program record for most wins in a single season. In addition to the program’s first trip to the MCWS, Kentucky also won its second regular-season SEC Championship, claiming victory in a program-best 22 league games.

All-SEC and ABCA All-District OF Ryan Waldschmidt has spearheaded the Kentucky offense from the top of the order, as he leads the team in on-base percentage, and in second in batting average and slugging percentage. Lexington Regional Most Outstanding Player Ryan Nicholson has been Kentucky’s power source, blasting long balls in three consecutive games in the NCAA Tournament. His 21 home runs in 2024 rank fourth on the Kentucky single-season annals and are the most in the Mingione era.

The Wildcats have featured a potent one-two punch on the mound this postseason, led by RHP Trey Pooser and RHP Mason Moore. Pooser is 3-0 across the SEC and NCAA Tournaments this season, holding a sparkling 0.47 ERA and striking out 17. Moore has been a hero for the Cats over the past two postseasons, only allowing one earned run on 23.2 innings of work in his NCAA tournament career. He was the winning pitcher in the Lexington Regional championship game in both 2023 and 2024.

[10] NC State (38-21, 18-11 ACC) qualified for its fourth trip to Omaha after upsetting [7] Georgia in the Athens Super Regional. One of two Supers to require a game three, NCSU dominated game one, 18-1, before falling 11-2 in game two. The Wolfpack blasted four home runs in Monday’s 8-5 win to topple the Bulldogs and advance to the MCWS for the first time since 2021. NC State started its NCAA Tournament run by sweeping through the Raleigh Regional, defeating Bryant, South Carolina, and James Madison.

NC State features three batters with at least 18 home runs, with 3B Alec Makarewicz leading the team with a .380 batting average, 22 long balls, and 80 RBI. RHP Sam Highfill has been the go-to starter for the Pack, leading the team with a 7-2 record, holding a 5.06 ERA with 75 strikeouts over 80.0 innings. Highfill has started, and won, both of his NCAA Tournament appearances in 2024, defeating Bryant in the opening round of regionals and knocking off Georgia in game one of Super Regionals.

NC State owns a 4-3 advantage in the all-time series with Kentucky, with the last three meetings all taking place in the 2017 Lexington Regional. The Wolfpack defeated Kentucky in the 1-0 game before the Cats rallied to win three straight elimination games, including two over NC State in the regional final, to win the program’s first regional championship.

No matter the result of Saturday’s game, the Wildcats are guaranteed another game in Omaha on Monday, June 17. The winners of the two Opening Round contests in Bracket 2, [2] Kentucky-[10] NC State and [3] Texas A&M-Florida, will play at 7 p.m. ET in the 1-0 game while the losers of the two contests will play at 2 p.m. ET in an elimination game.

Saturday, June 15
[2] No. 2 Kentucky vs. [10] No. 11 NC State
2 p.m. ET; Omaha, Neb. (Charles Schwab Field Omaha)
Radio: UK Sports Network | Television: ESPN

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