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#15 Kentucky Wildcats Baseball Best Redhawks from Miami (OH) with Bizarre Baseball

@CoachRyanKY 🦉

March 26, 2024

LEXINGTON- Kentucky Proud Park, or “KPP” referred to by many around these parts, is a new facility that replaced an aging Cliff Hagan Stadium on the campus of the University of Kentucky. Located in close proximity to Kroger Field, the complex boasts impressive performance enhancing facilities set to the background of the picturesque “Arboretum”. I highly encourage anyone having second thoughts, or looking for some high quality baseball, to make their way over for a game, an open aired concourse and spacious seating bowl awaits you.

Today, the “Bat Cats” would be taking on the Miami (OH) RedHawks in a non-conference single game tune-up.

The RedHawks hail from the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and dropped a heartbreaker on Sunday to Northern Illinois University in an in-conference series.

Kentucky, is coming off of an impressive series of their own, winning their Southeastern Conference road opener by going two-of-three to bring their overall win total to an impressive 20 on the season against the University of Missouri Tigers.

The Bat Cats have aspirations of reaching Omaha and the College World Series. These kinds of games can’t be taken for granted, a win would be imperative to give the Cats positive momentum heading into what promises to be a difficult test this coming weekend on the road in Oxford, Mississippi for Nick Mingione’s Wildcats against Ole Miss.

Drew Lafferty, a redshirt freshman righty, would be taking the mound for Kentucky. In five appearances, Lafferty owns a 3.24 era and a 1-0 record in 16 innings of work. He hails from South Park, Pennsylvania and was rated by Prep Baseball Report as the number 183 ranked player in his graduating class. Landen Looper, a seldomly used junior right hander, would be hurling the pearl for the red-clad RedHawks.

On a personal note, I was filled with excitement as covering the Kentucky Wildcats in a professional capacity had always been a dream of mine. I was ready. Are you?

1st Inning

Drew Lafferty got things underway with a first pitch strike under a sunny Lexington sky from a region that had been pounded by a gloomy (matching the feels of a downtrodden fan base) mist and gusty wind for much of the day.

A strikeout followed on Miami’s lead off man Ty Batusich. Twelve pitches later, he had gone three up-and-three down to move into the bottom of the opening inning.

Kentucky’s lead off hitter, Patrick Herrera, was plunked on the first at bat of the game to give the Cats a runner on first with no men out.

Émilien Pitré, from Quebec, was second up for the Cats, he was gifted a free base after some errant pitching from Looper that prompted a mound visit from RedHawks Head Coach Brian Smiley.

A long fly ball from the Wildcats’ Ryan Nicholson setup clean-up man Nick Lopez, who boasts one of the more impressive mustaches I’ve seen in recent years.

A passed ball moved Pitré to Second and Lopez was eventually walked on the 15th pitch of the game for Looper. Double-barrels were loaded in the bullpen as this presumably is not the effort his skipper was looking for. Inability to hit the strike zone walked in the first run for the Bat Cats and loaded the bases with Catcher Austin Fawley preparing for his trip to the pentagon. Fawley grounded to the Shortstop for a quick double play and Kentucky was up 1-0 after one.

It felt like the Cats left some runs on the table there.

2nd Inning

Lafferty was removed from the mound and replaced by Zach Hise. A right-hander hailing from just outside of the Windy City. On two innings pitched this season, he holds a nine run ERA and 0-0 record.

An inflied fly-out to Zaberowski was successfully fielded by First Baseman-Ryan Nicholson. Hise walked the second batter of the inning, David Novak brought up the 7th hitter of the lineup for Miami (OH). The previous hiccup was no issue for Hise, as he suckered Nolan McArthy into swinging to end the inning while his team remained scoreless.

Nick Demonica took over pitching duties for Looper, who was all over the strike zone in the opening inning. Just not his day.

Demonica earned a quick out on the Wildcats’ Nolan McCarthy to begin his outing, but put Wildcat Right Fielder James McCoy on first….gratis de nuevo (for free again).

Grant Smith, the Shortstop, rounded out the Wildcat batting order with a lone out on the board in the bottom of the inning. A solidly struck pitch was caught by Miami’s Center Fielder- Zach Macdonald.

Herrera was due up for the Cats….and he was put on base for Miami’s fifth walk of the evening…a growing number that the Cats would soon make them pay for.

Pitré flew out to Left Field to end the inning on an errorless inning for Miami.

3rd Inning

A no out, lead off base hit for the Redhawks put Second Baseman Blake Buzzeo on First. Hise was visited by Coach Nick Mingione after two balls followed the walk. An error on a sacrificed bunt followed by a mishandled ball by Wildcats back stop Austin Fawley moved both Redhawks on base into scoring position. The lead off hitter, Batusich capitalized on the Wildcat mistakes and lined a piercing bullet through the gap between Grant Smith and Mitchell Daly. That led both runners on base to score.

Next up, Dillon Baker-a second baseman for the Redhawks, hit a ground ball into Right that put Bausch in scoring position on Second Base.

Nick Mingione had seen enough, ending Hise’s outing as he was replaced by right-hander Cameron O’Brian.

Runners were on first and second as Zach Macdonald was due up to the plate. The misfortunes for the boys bearing black and blue continued. A lead off walk was followed by Zaberowski dinking a ball to Left, scoring the runner on Third.

Redhawks lead 3-1.

Ryan Novak followed Zaberowski as O’Brian was able to settle in for his first "K" of the day. A routine double play on a ground ball from David Novak sent the Wildcats back to their dugout.

Comeback season was now unexpectedly upon us in Lexington.

Ryan Nicholson led things off the a two-base hit to Right Field. Lopez followed with what looked to be a base hit, only to be robbed by Miami’s Shortshop Dillon Baker, who made an impressive leaping catch to keep Nicholson at-bay and send Lopez back to the dugout.

A following Mitchell Daly groundout had Wildcat Media around me grumbling.

This Redhawk squad has underperformed this season owning a 9-13 record (4-5 in conference) so a loss would hurt the Cat’s resumé.

Austin Fawley was able to hit a line drive back at the Pitcher, bounding off of the mound and rolling into Center to score Nicholson.

3-2 Redhawks.

Nolan McCarthy drew a walk on a three ball-and-one strike count to prompt another mount visit by Smiley.

McCarthy rounded out the inning with an out to Third to end the Inning with a score of 3-2, Redhawks on top.

4th Inning

Robert Hogan was in to toss for the Cats. “The Spins” from Mac Miller rang through the loudspeakers as the sun was beginning to set over a tangerine-tinted Lexington sky.

He was good for a strike on his first pitch of the day and forced the right-handed Garrison Barlie to fly out to shallow Right. Blake Buzzeo was caught "lacking" as Hogan struck him out and then forced Tyler Gordon into the ground for to efficiently send Kentucky back to the batter’s box.

Grant Smith was due up for the Cats with Herrera awaiting "On Deck" in the "one-hole". Smith was suckered into swinging at a low off-speed pitch to tally the first out of the inning.

Herrera was walked to take yet another “freebie”.

Pitré would then join him in the “been hit by a Redhawks Pitcher club”.

Ryan Nicholson fouled off an errant pitch that he actually was trying to avoid into the awaiting glove of RedHawk Third Baseman-Tyler Gordon setting up yet another Wildcat ground out by off of the bat of Mitchell Daly.

5th Inning

Hogan returned to the mound for the Cats, quickly sending Batusich back to the bench.

Dillon Baker was next up for Redhawks, the Shortstop took an 0-2 pitch yard…directly into the Wildcat bullpen to make the score 5-2 RedHawks.

A line to Center by Zach McDonald clang off of the aluminum bat to follow and the Wildcats were able earn their first out.

A nearly identical play followed from Ryland Zaberowski and the Wildcats efficiently earned two outs.

Another pop fly to the Center Fielder by D.Novak ended the top of the inning for the Bat Cats.

Mitchell Daly was next up to bat for Kentucky. He attempted to bunt on his first pitch but had to dodge a wild fastball near his helmet. Another high pitch brought the count to 2-0. Daly, showing great plate discipline, was able to draw another walk at the conclusion oh his plate appearance, taking First and summoning Austin Fawley to the batter’s box.

Smiley returned to the mound to speak with Nolan Hollis.

Smiley is in his first season leading the RedHawks baseball program.

Fawley, whom was one-for-two up to this point, successfully laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Daly into scoring position.

Nolan McCarthy struck a high fly ball that was fielded at the wall but successfully moved Daly to Third Base with two outs on the board for the Redhawks.

The Wildcats desperately needed capitalize with some offense here.

James McCoy was the man faced with the task and drew yet another walk, it would now be Grant Smith’s turn to see if he could do the same to the tables in this game.

Daly stole second on a 1-1 count. All the Wildcats would need was a base hit to advance them both home and add two to the board. He grounded out to Third, bringing the Wildcats number to ten…as in runners they have left on base up to this point.

5-2 RedHawks.

6th Inning

Mingione made the call to the bullpen to bring in Colby Frieda, a right-hander with a 10.38 ERA. An 0-2 start settled him into an eventual strikeout of David Novak, the RedHawks sixth batter in the lineup.

Garrison Barlie stepped up to the plate hoping to give Miami (OH) more cushion, he would leave empty handed as he fanned at a Frieda fastball. No cushions for sale here today.

A beautifully fielded grounder by shortstop Grant Smith ended the top half.

Leadoff man, Herrera, would be filling his normal role for Kentucky in the bottom of the Sixth. He drew a walk, looking back at the dugout giving his best Ric Flair impression before taking First.


Pitré was next up for the Cats, hoping to change his misfortunes thus far. Misfortunes continued, grounding into Second for a non-eventful double play.

Nicholson was next, but could not change course for Kentucky. He grounded out to first to leave score standing still. The Cats were beginning to run out of time on a loss that certainly would have been considered unexpected.

7th Inning

Evan Byers, from just down the road bearing the same name in Nicholasville, took the mound for the Bat Cats.

Another ground out to First Base by Redhawk hitter Tyler Gordon put the first out up for UK.

Byers took a toughly hit line drive off of the leg, but was able to field the ball to end the top of the seventh. He wasn’t limping as he headed back to the dugout, so all must be good!

It did draw a gasp from the press box. 5 pitches, 3 outs, inning over, score same. Time to stretch.

Connor Preisel, a left-hander, would take the hill to get things started in the bottom of the Seventh. Nick Lopez and his glorious ‘stache would be the first up for the Cats. Unfortunately, the lip warmer would have to shine in the spotlight another time as he struck out swinging.

Daly would soon after single to prompt a lineup move for Mingione. Devin Burkes would now be in to pinch hit for Austin Fawley.He would double to the Left Field corner wall to move Lopez to Third.

Nolan McCarthy stepped up to the plate with the game tying run. Ryan Waldschmidt was in to pinch hit for the Wildcats. You could tell Coach Nick Mingione knew that this was a prime opportunity to make up the three run deficit his team currently found themselves in. Two outs were on the board and “throw it in the dirt!” was being passionately pleaded for by the members of Big Blue Nation in attendance.

Waldschmidt drew a walk and the bases were loaded with Grant Smith coming to the plate as the go ahead run.

Ty Crittenburger entered the game to pinch run for Waldschmidt.

A full count beaming followed with a run walking home and Grant Smith verbalizing a seemingly-psychotic pleasure at the result of the previous pitch loudly towards his dugout.

(I think you call that “in the zone” or “intense”…either way, it made me and my friends in the press box laugh audibly.)

Herrera entered the batters box with the Miami (OH) margin now just leading by two runs, the score was 5-3.

Another walked run made the comeback look much more plausible. Who was up? Pitre. What happened? He was hit again!

The game was all tied up at five-a-piece with Ryan Nicholson moving to the batters box in hopes of adding some RBI’s for the struggling Bat Cats.

1-for-12 with runners in scoring position…but 16 free bases, that is one of the curious stat lines I can remember seeing in a baseball game period.

Smiley made the call to the pen to substitute Right-Handed relief Pitcher Evan Applewick into the game. Applewick, owns a 27.0 ERA, and no that is not a typo.

The count was loaded on another walk.

Add some more to the ERA, why not?

The Cats now lead 6-5 on a HBP-Walk-HBP-Walk series of oh-so-fortune events. Nick Lopez dug in, would the mustache get a chance to shine in the spotlight it deserves?

IT WOULD!! A ‘stache-tastic Two-Run RBI Single into Left finally put the Cats up 8-5.

Mitchell Daly returned to the plate for the Bat Cats, a swing-and-a-miss ended an otherwise productive inning for the good guys.

Two runners stranded.

8th Inning

The Nicholasville native, Byers, would return to the mound to start the Inning for the Wildcats. He would be facing Zach Macdonald, a .345 hitter for the Redhawks.

He hit a curving line drive into Right Field that was met with a Nolan McCarthy running catch on a ball that I thought was going to find its way down.

Ryan Novak was due up for the ‘Hawks, Byers caught him swinging. Three up-three down for the Bat Cats heading into the bottom of the Eighth.

Devin Burkes led things off from the "Six Slot" for the Cats, a first pitch ground out to Third would send him back to the dugout.

McCarthy fouled off an out but TY CRITTENBURG DROPPED A BOMB ON THE NEXT BATTER UP!! Lacing a 98 mph dinger off of the aluminum for his second Home Run of the year. The other coming at USC Upstate.

9-5 Good guys.

Herrera was back at the plate…0-0, but was welcomed with another errant pitch that struck him in the left shoulder.

That's not nice!

Pitré continued his recent slump and struck out swinging to bring us into the Final Inning of the night.

9th Inning

Cooper Robinson was called upon to close things out for Mingione.

David Novak was first up for the RedHawks and flew out to right-Center on a decently struck ball.

Tre Keels was inserted into the lineup by Smiley to pinch hit. He swung at the first two pitches of the count…but whiffed to go down 2-0.

His fate was sealed on the next pitch as he struck out looking and we were one out away from the Wildcats adding to the win column.

A fly out to first baseman Ryan Nicholson closed things out for Cats. The Wildcats move to 21-4 on the season

Ole Miss awaits in Oxford on Friday for a three games.

14 walks for the Cats, one shy of for the program record.

Like my work? Follow me on X (formerly Twitter) @CoachRyanKY for more! 🦉

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