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Kentucky Drops Series Finale to Tennessee in Record Setting Weekend at Kentucky Proud Park

@CoachRyanKY 🦉

LEXINGTON-A grudge match between bitter in-conference foes Kentucky and Tennessee took place from the friendly confines of Kentucky Proud Park on Sunday afternoon. Attendance records have been set the previous two days as the Bat Cats have captivated the attention of the Big Blue Nation. Winning will do that, and both of these teams have done a lot of just that…..winning. The eyes of College Baseball were at least peeking at Lexington and the Top 5 matchup at hand, a matchup that could very well take place in Omaha.

Mason Moore (R) would get the nod from Coach Nick Mingione for Kentucky. The Bat Cat “Ace” carried a 3.45 ERA into the game on 47 innings worked, which has been good enough for a flawless 7-0 record for Moore on the season.

Tennessee would lean on lefty Zander Sechrist. On 32.1 innings pitched this season, he holds a 3.34 ERA. Tennessee as a team is known for their powerful offensive style, which contrasts the small ball style adopted by Kentucky. The concourses were packed, the stands were full, and the energy was “giving”. (Did I do that right?)

Craig Skinner, the UK Volleyball Head Coach, had first pitch duties. The 2020 National Champion was high and tight over-the-plate and we were ready to play some ball.

1st Inning

Christian Moore stood into the Right side of the dish for the Vols to lead things off. Mason Moore fell behind in the count 3-1 before flying him out to Right Field for Out One. Blake Burke, the Junior-First Baseman, was up next for Tennessee. He would hit a ground ball in the direction of émilien Pitre which the Second Baseman easily fielded to Tally Number Two.A pop out from Billy Amick would round out the Top of the First for Kentucky. Three-up, Three-down. No damage done.

Ryan Waldschmidt would be the lead-off hitter for the Cats.

Waldschmidt has resembled prime-era Babe Ruth as of late in my opinion, bounding balls over the fence at an exceptionally high rate. I know, no one asked.

An off-speed pitch would catch Waldschmidt swinging for Out One for the Vols.

Émilien Pitre was due up Second for Kentucky, he would ground out down the First Base line for a close tag out by Tennessee.

Out Number Two. .

Grant Smith laid down a B-E-A-UTIFUL bunt down the Third Base line to take First Base and summon the ‘stache. Nick Lopez, the facial follicle wonder boy, filled the DH role for Kentucky. Aggressive base running, would send him back to the dugout as Smith was caught in a pickle for an out.

2nd Inning

Kavares Tears was Fourth up for the Orange. Mason Moore would catch him swinging on a fastball on three pitches.

One Away.

Dylan Dreiling would fare no better, as a weak fly to shallow Right was leathered by Pitre.

Two Away.

Dean Curley would look to be the Volunteers’ first base runner of the day. He would need to keep searching however, as a ground ball to the best middle infield in the country is not the way to find base.

Three-up, Three-Down.

Returning to the Plate for Kentucky was Nick Lopez. The Designated Hitter stepped into the box to the sounds of Bad Bunny, this time from the Right Side. He would Strike Out to put One in the corresponding column for Tennessee.

Mitchell Daly, “The Sparkplug”, was the five-hole filler for Nick Mingione. He would Single into Right-Center bringing Ryan Nicholson to the Batter’s Box. The Louisville-native went down looking.

Next up, Nolan McCarthy, the Center Fielder would line out on a hard hit ball to left.

3rd Inning

Tennessee’s Center Fielder, .252 hitting Hunter Ensley was first up for the Orange. He would unsuccessfully test the Kentucky middle infielders with a ground ball that was vacuumed up for a quick out.

Reese Chapman, the Designated Hitter for Tennessee popped up a second-pitch Fastball to Center for a quick out number two.

Cal Stark, the Knoxville native, was last on the lineup card for the Volunteers. He would take first free-of-charge to give Tennessee their first base runner of the day. A base runner that Christian Moore would hope to advance. He would advance him all the way around and score himself on a two-run home run to put the Vols ahead.

2-0, other guys.

Burke was back up for Tennessee, he would swing at the first pitched face and fly it out to Nolan McCarthy in Center Field.

James McCoy dug his toe into the turf next for Kentucky. A ground out to the Short Stop put one away for Tennessee.

Bring in “The Big Blue Backstop”, Kentucky’s Catcher-Devin Burkes. He would hit a BIG BLUE BOMB sneaking fair down the Left Field line to bring Kentucky within one.

2-1, other guys.

Waldschmidt, the man that has reminded me of Barry Bonds sending balls into McCovey’s cove of San Fransisco, was next up for Kentucky. He would play small ball this time however, b-e-a-utifully executing a bunt to beat a wild throw and take First Base.

Pitre’s turn, the Canadian-born Second baseman would move Waldschmidt to Second and position himself on First.

Runners were on First and Second when Tennessee made it Conference time on the mound. Concern was obvious as Tennessee continuously attempted to pick off Kentucky base runners. Grant Smith would sac-fly to Center to send Waldschmidt to Third, painting the corners for Kentucky.

Two away.

Nick Lopez would fly out to leave two stranded for the Bat Cats.

4th Inning

Mason Moore would force Billy Amick into a Ground out to open up the Top of the Fourth. Next batter, he would be forced to come off of the mound to field a weak ground ball from Tears to quickly add out Number Two.

A pop out from Drieling ended the Inning on only six pitches thrown by Moore.

Three-up, Three-down.

Leading off the Bottom of the Fourth for Kentucky was Mitchell Daly, a BIG BLUE BOMB was the result of the First Pitch thrown his way.

All square in the “grudge match”

Next up was Nicholson, his 11 home runs this year have certainly helped the success of this team. This at bat, he would hit a line drive easily past the Second Baseman for a Single to summon Nolan McCarthy to the box.

Tennessee had double barrels loaded in the Bullpen and would again turn the Pitcher’s mound into a conference room. Andrew Bennie would be the relief, the Lefty from the Music City held a 1.54 ERA on 11.2 worked. He would plunk McCarthy who would contentiously speak to the Tennessee dugout walking the line to First.

“GO BIG BLUE” could be heard ringing through the stands of KPP.

James McCoy would attempt to sacrifice bunt to advance runners but Tennessee successfully fielded the ball to Third Base on a Fielder’s Choice to keep the base running situation the same with one away.

Devin Burkes, coming off of a hamstring injury sustained in a victory over Louisville on Tuesday was due up for Kentucky. He would be hit by a fast ball to load ‘em up for the Cats.

Due up? The red-hot Ryan Waldschmidt. The man that has been doing his best Hank Aaron impression as-of-recent, just ahnialating any heater thrown his way.

That would be it for Bennie, as he was yanked for Nate Snead, the Right-Handed Relief Pitcher owning a 3.24 ERA on 41.2 Innings of work. He had 35 Strike Outs and 13 Walks on the season into Sunday.

Waldschmidt grasped the aluminum and was tasked with giving Kentucky their first lead of the game. He would continue his hot-steak offensively and put down a Two-Run double to give Kentucky the lead!

4-2, good guys.

Pitre immediately followed with a deep sacrifice-fly to the warning track in Center to score Burkes.

5-2, good guys.

Grant Smith was the three-hole hitter for Kentucky, he would fall out to end what was an immensely successful inning for the Bat Cats.

5th Inning

Tennessee’s Shortstop, Dean Curley, Singled to Center on the first pitch of the side for Moore. Hunter Ensley was on-deck.Ensley would ground out to the vacuum that is the Kentucky Wildcats’ middle infield for a Routine Double Play.

Two away.

Reese Chapman now had a blank diamond to work with, he would go down swinging for the Final Out of the side and sending both teams back to their respective dugouts.

No movement on the scoreboard.

Nick Lopez would leadoff with a stachestastic Single to kick off the bottom of the Fifth for Kentucky.

Mitchell Daly would fly out to Deep Center, failing to advance Lopez to Second. Ryan Nicholson entered the box from the on-deck circle. He would hit a screaming line drive over the Vols First Baseman to paint the corners with Lopez.

Kentucky’s Center Fielder, Nolan McCarthy,  roped a single in to Center would score Lopez and put Nicholson on Second.

6-2, good guys.

James McCoy would ground into a routine double play to get the Vols out of the Inning.

6th Inning

Cal Stark would hope to be Tennessee’s Iron Man and spark the beginnings of a heroic comeback. His armor would be dented as an uncharacteristic errant pitch from Moore found his arm and sent him to First free-of-charge.

Christian Moore would be next up, avenging Stark and moving him to Third on a Double of his own.

Mound Meeting Kentucky with double-barrels loaded.

Moore would remain in the game to face Blake Burke, who entered the box 0-for-2 on the afternoon. Burke hit a blooper into Left to score one for the Orange.

6-3, good guys.

Next up for Tennessee, Billy Amick, a Power Hitting Third Baseman. He hit a ball to Pitre that was amazingly fielded by the Bat Cats Second Baseman but was dropped by Nicholson at First Base to score two Tennessee runners on an Error.

6-5, good guys.

No outs.

Dreiling would follow with a game-tying Single into Right, escaping the grasp of Pitre.

6-6, Zero away.

That would end the afternoon of Mason Moore, as Nick Mingione signaled to the Wildcat bullpen to bring Cameron O’Brien into the game in Relief. O’Brien, a 6’5” Senior holds a 2.20 ERA on 16.1 innings pitched.

Up to bat for Tennesse was Curley, O’Brien would fall behind 3-1 in the count before missing a fastball letter-high to send Curley to First and load ‘em up for an awaiting Cannon Peebles, a pinch hitter.

O’Brien’s day would end quickly with a Kentucky Pitching change, enter Jackson Nove (L) in Relief. Nove carried a 3.26 ERA on 19.1 innings worked.

First item of business for Nove would be to get an out on the board, and he did that. But at the expense of a deep sacrifice fly to the Warning Track of Center Field to score yet another run for Tennessee.

7-6, other team.

Enter to the plate, Reese Chapman, the Tennessee DH. He would ground out to the vacuum of the Blue middle infield to end the disastrous inning.

Devin Burkes, needing to be tended to for a cramp in the Top of the Inning, was leading off for the Bat Cats.

He would be facing Kirby O’Connell (L) on the mound for Tennessee. Burkes would continue to get on base, showing great discipline at the plate to walk the line free-of-charge.

Waldschmidt was next up, his performance as-of-late can obviously be likened to a prime-era Sammy Sosa sending fastballs home as souvenirs.

He would unsuccessfully attempt to do the same, hitting a ball resulting in a deep punch out in Center.

The sensational Second Baseman, Émilien Pitre was next up in the two-slot for Kentucky. In an interview with BBN Tonight this week, he discussed the challenges of having to learn English as a Second language when he arrived to Lexington. He would fail to advance Burkes with a weak fly-out to Center.

Grant Smith came to the dish with two outs on the board for the Vols. The Wildcat Shortstop from Albuquerque would send a BIG BLUE BOMB deep into the sunny-blue sky to put Kentucky back on top.

8-7, good guys.

Summon the ‘Stache, “Go Big Blue” could once again be heard from the faithful that have filled Kentucky Proud Park. He would go down on Strikes to end the Inning.

7th Inning

Travis Smith entered the game and took the hill for the Bat Cats. He owned a 5.08 ERA on 33.2 worked entering the game. Dalton Bargo would be his first opponent, squatting into the left side of the Batter’s Box. Two quick strikes from Smith put Bargo behind the count 1-2 after a pitch to the outside before he popped up a Fastball hurled right down broadway to McCarthy in Center.

One away.

Due up for the Volunteers was Christian Moore, he would launch a 94 mph heater over the fence in Right-Center to even things up in this pivotal SEC East Matchup.

Eight all.

A mound visit interrupted Blake Burke’s trip to the Plate. Kentucky would leave Smith in the game, a decision that would bite back as Burke hit a ground ball into Center for a Single.

Entering the box, Billy Amick, the Tennessee Third Baseman. Amick fell out swinging to add out number two to the board for the Bat Cats.

Next for Tennessee was Tears, who quickly found himself down 0-2 in the count after the same number of pitches. He stayed disciplined at the plate to load up the count on Smith. The discipline was rewarded with a two-run homer falling into his own bullpen over Right Field.

10-8, other team.

Pitre routinely put out Bargo to end the Inning for Kentucky.

Get your stretchy pants on.

Mitchell Daly had lead off duties for the Cats and was quickly put away on a short grounder a mere ten feet in front of the plate.

Time for the Kentucky native to bat, Ryan Nicholson has 37 RBI’s this year on a .322 average. His average would be hurt as he went down looking for Out Two.

The following at bat, Nolan McCarthy launched a BIG BLUE BOMB over the 400’ Center Field fence to cut the Vol lead to one.

10-9, other team.

Nick Mingione adjusted his lineup to pinch hit Patrick Herrera in the eight-slot. Herrera is a .310 hitter with 13 hits so far in 2024. He’d go down looking on a letter high fastball for the Final Out of the Inning.

8th Inning

Dean Curley hit a lead-off Single into Left Field to bring Cannon Peebles to the box. Peebles would get ahead 3-0 in the count on Smith before a conference room was formed on the hill.

Double barrels loaded in the Kentucky bullpen.

Peebles would take the next two for strikes to load up the Count for Smith. The next at-bat he would walk Peebles to put runners on First and Second Base.

That would end the day of Smith, who was replaced by “Lightning McQueen” himself, Johnny Hummel. (His entrance music is the theme song from the Disney classic ‘Cars’).

Reese Chapman would get the first batter faced by Hummel, he would hit into a Fielder’s choice by Pitre to paint the corners Orange.

One away.

A pop out from Bargo looked like it was going to score a sacrificial run for Tennessee but McCarthy put on a line to home to hold the runners at-bay.

It would not matter however, as Christian Moore sent one over the Left Field fence.

13-9, other team.

Blake Burke would pop out to deep Left-Center to let the Wildcats out of the Inning.

The game was starting to become contentious as both sides began to vocalize their “no love lost” feelings towards each other.

“The Big Blue Backstop” held lead off duties in the Bottom of the Eighth for Kentucky. He lined what looked to be a base-hit in the way of Dean Curley that was web-gem’d by Curley to send him back to the dugout.

Ryan Waldschmidt, on a tear reminiscent of Aaron Judge’s AL record setting season a couple of years ago.

He would bat a ball to the warning track forcing the Volunteer defender to slam into the wall for the nice play.

Two out.

Pitre was up for Kentucky, he was 1-for-3 on the day heading into the at bat, holding an RBI from earlier in the game. He laced a ground ball to Second and beat the throw to take First. Grant Smith would fly out on the next batter up to leave Pitre stranded.

9th Inning

Kentucky would need to put on their best rally caps going into the final inning. Four runs separated Tennessee from a very important series victory over the Bat Cats. Hummel returned to the hill looking to make quick work for the Wildcats.

Amick went down swinging on strikes.

One away.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so that’s what they say, and thats what Tears did on the next at-bat going down swinging himself.

Two away.

Dreiling took four consecutive pitches outside of the zone to walk the line free-of-charge. Putting one runner on base for Tennessee.

Curley couldn’t convert, he flew out to Center.

Three Away.

Kentucky would face a four run deficit entering the offensive side of the Final Inning. Nick Lopez would be pinched hit for by Rueben Church would be first up, needing to at least get on base as Kentucky could not afford to waste any opportunities now.

He would fly out to Left.

One Out.

Mitchell Daly stepped into the Right Side of the box in hopes to provide a spark for Kentucky. “The Sparkplug”, as I have referred to him in the past, seems to thrive in these types of situations. A SPARK HE LIT, A BIIIIIG BLUE BOMB bounded over the Center Field wall to put double digits on the board for the Bat Cats.

13-10, other team.

Ryan Nicholson, the Bluegrass Kid, added ANOTHER BIIIIGGG BLUE BOMB for the Bat Cats on the next at bat.

13-11, other team.

Next up to the plate, Nolan McCarthy. The Wildcat Outfeilder homered earlier in the game with a 419’ shot over Center. One out was on the board and “We are UK” was shouted in encouragement from the Big Blue Nation.

He grounded out to Second base.

Two Out.

Now Patrick Herrera held the hopes of the Big Blue Nation in his hands. He needed to find base in order to keep Kentucky’s dreams of winning alive. Find base he did, showing an extreme “gamer mentality” to Single into Center Field.

Devin Burkes now represented the tying run coming to the plate. A mound visit from Tennessee hoped to throw his timing off and stop the surging Wildcat momentum that could be felt throughout the buzzing Kentucky Proud Park. Tennessee would bring in a new Pitcher in an attempt to close things out and take a road-series win back down Interstate 75 to Knoxville. Marcus Phillips, a Right-hander from South Dakota took the mound for the Volunteers.

Brukes ended the game on a fly out to Right.

Tennessee takes the series from Kentucky, two games to one.

UT: 13-11-0-2


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