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Tough Night for Kentucky Bullpen Gives Game One to the Hogs

@CoachRyanKY 🦉

LEXINGTON-The Bat Cats were back home after a tough series loss in Columbia last weekend against South Carolina.

No mid-week game took place this week for the Blue, presumably due to Final Exams being scheduled for these STUDENT-athletes.

A reset may have been needed, as the Cats mis-step last week cooled their otherwise red hot engines.

Welcoming them back home? The Arkansas Razorbacks, yes the same University that lured Kentucky Basketball Head Coach John Calipari away from the sidelines on the hardwood of the Big Blue Nation with a substantial financial promise from a large chicken manufacturer (no unpaid ads).

To say the two fan bases have been sparring at each other on various social media platforms would be an understatement, it has more resembled an all out Royal Rumble.

Different sport, same fan bases, same feelings. Basic Math.

Nick Minigione would lob the rock to Trey Pooser, the normal Friday Night Starter for Kentucky. Pooser, a Right-Handed Senior, holds a 3.75 ERA on 12 Appearances and a 3-0 record.

South Carolina would look to a Lefty, Hagen Smith (Jr.), he currently holds a 1.35 ERA at the time of writing and an 8-0 record on 11 starts and 11 appearances.

Kentucky would be dawning their Home White and Arkansas would shoulder their Road Gray’s. Arkansas also brings the Number Two ranking nationally to Lexington this weekend. Kentucky held down the Eighth Slot in this week’s polls.

Gloomy skies welcomed the First Pitch at 6:32 PM, ET and it was Baseball time in the Bluegrass. Peyton Stovall dropped the Second Pitch of the Game into Center for a lead off Single. It would not be of any relevance however as Pooser held strong the entire Inning and left Stovall stranded on Second.

Peyton Holt would lead off the Top of the Second with a Single ripped down the Left Baseline for the Hogs. A full count Walk on Ryder Helfrick started the “Calling of the Hogs” from the Arkansas fans seated behind the visiting Razorback dugout on the First Base Side. That no out Single moved Holt to Second in scoring position.

Pooser would settle in to earn the first out of the Inning by way of strikes. A hard hit grounder from Hudson White was fielded to Second by Mitchell Daly but a Double Play was unable to be turned as White beat out the relay throw from Pitre. Arkansas would make the grave mistake of hitting a ball towards the vaccum that is the Kentucky Middle Infield and leave the Corners Painted.

THAT ladies and gentlemen, is what you call battling through adversity. Something we can all take a lesson from in our daily lives. No matter how bad something may seem, if you stay focused on the task at hand…things will likely work out.

“The Big Blue Backstop” Devin Burkes would rake in the First Hit of the Day for Kentucky with a two out Single lined directly to Jared Sprague-Lott at Third Base. Sprague-Lott mishandled the ball and let Burkes scurry down the Line and beat the throw. A mere two Pitches later, Burkes would steal Second. One pitch later, the red-hot Ryan Waldschmidt lined a ball deep off of the wall in Center to take Second standing and score Burkes.

1-0, good guys Bottom Third.

Waldschmidt has been on an absolute tear as of late, demolishing heaters a/la a primed Albert Pujols. I know, no one asked.

Ruben Church put a line drive down in Center for a one out Single in the Bottom of the Fourth. He filled the Designated Hitter slot in the Lineup today, a spot usually filled by The Best Mustache in Baseball…Nick Lopez.

Church would be left on base when Mitchell Daly went down swinging for strike number three. Arkansas narrowly escaping the explosive Wildcat offense.

The Bat Cats are known nationally for their “Small Ball” style of play and aggressive Base stealing. That makes Kentucky a difficult team send away empty when they get a Runner on Base.

Hudson White would lead off the Top of the Fifth Inning with a Double into Left Field, putting a runner in scoring position with none away for Arkansas. A wild pitch from Pooser would move him over to Third with one Out on the board previously put up by Devin Burkes fielding a dribbler to First. The next pitch, Peyton Stovall would hit an opposite field dinker down the Left Hand side to score White. Queue the “Calling of the Hogs” from the Pig Sooie patrons in attendance.

Tie game, Middle Fifth.

Nolan McCarthy would walk the line to open up the bottom of the Fifth for Kentucky. A weak roller back to the pitcher’s mound forced a fielder’s choice to First base to put the first out on the board for Arkansas. McCarthy slid safely into Second.

I mentioned aggressive base running earlier, Arkansas must’ve not been paying attention, because McCarthy took Third on the first pitch of the at-bat to Devin Burkes. Burkes would go down on Strikes to put two away and summon Waldschmidt back to the dish. Waldschmidt would Strikeout himself and leave McCarthy all alone on Third.

That was the Eleventh K of the night for Hagen Smith.

No one asked me but I have been very impressed with his stuff, pretty consistently clocking 95-96 mph on the Radar and also throwing a sneaky Slider that has decent movement across the Plate.

No movement on the Scoreboard, but movement in the Kentucky bullpen could be spotted by the wandering eye.

Pooser would return to the hill for Kentucky as dark clouds began to roll in over Kentucky Proud Park.

Maybe they are telling us something?

Holt and Helfrick would both walk to put two runners aboard with only one out.

That would be it for Pooser, as Mingione emerged from the Dugout to signal Cameron O’Brien into the game in Relief. O’Brien is a Right Hander holding a 2.75 ERA through 19.2 Innings of work this season for the Wildcat squad. The first batter he would face would be Kendall Diggs, the Razorback Right Fielder.

Diggs is a native of Olathe, KS. That is the town Willie Cauley-Stein, the former Wildcat basketball All-American is from. Did you know he played high school football? (All sarcasm here)

Diggs would hit a shot into Right to score two runs and take Third base on a mishandled relay throw by Devin Burkes.

3-1, other guys in the Top of the Sixth.

Hudson White took residence in the right ride of the Batter’s Box, he sent a screamer off of the aluminum into the awaiting glove of Mitchell Daly at Third to put the second out on the board for the Cats. Arkansas elected to pinch hit, replacing Ty Wilmsmeyer with Ross Lovitch, a left handed hitter. Kentucky would bring in their own Left Hander to face him.

Nick Mingione was playing chess.

Enter Jackson Nove to be his grand master.

Another Razorback run would score on yet another passed ball to add the sixth extra base hit for the Hogs. But more importantly in the scheme of the game, it added another run to the Arkansas lead.

4-1 other guys, Top of the Sixth Inning.

Bat Cats had some work to do.

Pitre would be the lead off hitter in the bottom of the Sixth for the Cats. He would have the opportunity to do his best Johnny Cash impression after a Nolan Ryan-esque “Texas Bowtie” narrowly missed his head. Enter, Grant Smith stage left. His act was short however, as he’d go down swinging to put one away for the Hogs. Exit Grant Smith, stage left. Church and Daly would fall victims to the Smith heat as well. Both striking out to leave Pitre stranded all alone on First.

That was Smith’s 14th Strikeout of the Day. Wow. I’m obviously a Kentucky homer but that is impressive.

A one out blooper dropped in Right Field in the top of the Seventh from Ben McLaughlin to move the Arkansas lead off hitter to Third after singling earlier in the side for the Razorbacks. 

The next batter would walk the line to juice the bags for the Hogs and bring Ryder Helfrick up to the plate.

Here came the Hog Call from the WooPig fans.

Nove would regain composure, sending him packing for out number two.

Kendall Diggs would hit an RBI single into Center to add two more in the scoring column for the Sooie’s.

6-1, other team.

That would end the day for Nove, Nick Mingione and the Kentucky Infield gathered on the mound to await Cooper Robinson to enter from the Bullpen.

Robinson is a Right-Hander with a 5.11 ERA on 11.2 Innings worked in 2024.

The First Pitch thrown from Robinson would be ripped into Left for an RBI single from Hudson White.

7-1, other team.

Lovitch would walk the line to load the bases back up and bring Peyton Stovall to the plate for Arkansas. Robinson would walk him as well, walking in yet another run.

8-1, other team.

Sprague-Lott would be the next batter, his fate was the same.

9-1, other team.

That brought the Hawaii Native, Wehiwa Aloy to the dish. He would go 2-2 in the count before a wild pitch could not be fielded successfully by Burkes. That wild pitch would cost the Wildcats another run.

The disasterous top of the seventh finally ended, but not without great damage to the scoreboard. Seven runs scored on the side to widen the Arkansas lead to 10-1.

Not desirable.

Kentucky is going to need to find a way to keep the Score down against elite Southeastern Conference competition. Offensively, the Bat Cats can usually hang with the best of them. But, when you run into a force on the mound like they did tonight, it makes it much more difficult to win baseball games while relying so heavily on scoring an abundance of runs. When your relief pitches you out of an otherwise good start, it doesn’t bode well for the win column either. The Kentucky Pitching Staff has allowed SIXTY-ONE earned runs on its last Fifty-Eight Innings pitched. If that seems like a lot, it’s because it is. It brings the team ERA during that period to a 9.47.

I trust Nick Mingione will get it figured out.

Mitchell Daly would add a run with one out in the bottom of the ninth to make the score 10-2, Arkansas. Burkes would bat another run in to make it 10-3. That would be the last run added for Kentucky as Arkansas would win the game by the same score.

After the game Mingione told reporters, “We just didn’t make enough pitches, we got to where we kind of lost the Strike Zone.” He followed, “Our inability to command the ball and get it in the Strike Zone really cost us tonight.”

Well said.

The clock will expire on this one at Midnight and the Bat Cats will look to even up the series tomorrow at 2 pm, ET from Kentucky Proud Park.

Arkansas- 10/11/0/11

Kentucky- 3/5/0/6


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