Baseball Cats Continue to Do Things Never Done Before

Baseball Cats Continue to Do Things Never Done Before

by Tim Letcher

Lost in the excitement of Kentucky’s 5-4 win over N.C. State in the College World Series was that the Cats actually eclipsed a significant school record in the game.

Yes, Mitchell Daly’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning was the focus of most of the attention. Other significant moments were Ryan Nicholson’s ninth-inning bomb that tied the game, and Johnny Hummel’s big effort out of the bullpen. One could also point to Trey Pooser’s outstanding start and UK’s tremendous defense.

All of those factors led the Cats to the win, which was the 46th victory of the season. That’s a new school record, passing the 2012 team, which won 45. This year’s Cats continue to set new heights for the program.

When Nick Mingione was hired as the head coach at Kentucky, he talked about doing things that have never been done before. While that was just a talking point at the time, Mingione has backed it up with huge results during his eight-year tenure.

In his first year, 2017, Mingione’s team earned the right to host an NCAA Baseball Regional for just the second time in school history. The Cats rallied out of the loser’s bracket of that regional, beating N.C. State to earn UK’s first trip to the Super Regionals.

Last year, the Cats matched that effort, winning the Lexington Regional for the second time in school history by beating Indiana to advance to a second Super Regional.

However, this year’s team has taken things a step further. UK was awarded with the number two national seed, meaning that the Cats would not only host a Lexington Regional, but if they could win that regional, they would also host the Super Regional for the first time in school history.

Kentucky did just that, sweeping through the regional with wins over Western Michigan, Big Ten champion Illinois and Missouri Valley champion Indiana State.

The Cats did host the Super Regional, welcoming three-time national champion Oregon State to Kentucky Proud Park. The UK pitching staff held the Beavers to just three hits over the course of a two-game sweep that earned Kentucky its first-ever trip to the College World Series. Yet another thing that had never been done.

On Saturday, Kentucky won its first CWS game on the Daly bomb in extra innings, marking yet another first for the program. UK will face fellow Southeastern Conference member Texas A&M on Monday night with a chance to stay in the winner’s bracket and a chance to set themselves up for a solid shot to make it to the championship series.

The 2024 Cats continue to add to a special list of accomplishments. Kentucky hopes that it can add even more of those feats when they face the Aggies at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha on Monday.

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