UK headed to second-ever Super Regional

Published 12:49 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2023


Kentucky Today

Kentucky is going to the NCAA Super Regionals for the second time in school history.

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The Wildcats defeated Indiana 4-2 to earn a ticket to the Baton Rouge Regional, where the Wildcats will take on LSU in a three-game series starting Friday. Kentucky, seeded 12th in the NCAA Tournament, won two of three games against No. 5 seed LSU in April at Alex Box Stadium.

The Hoosiers sent the Wildcats (40-19) into the elimination bracket with a stunning 5-3 triumph on Saturday night, but Kentucky won three straight in two days, including two in a row over the Hoosiers to bounce back in impressive fashion.

A record crowd of 6,796 fans witnessed the clinching victory on Monday night at Kentucky Proud Park. Kentucky made its previous appearance in the Super Regionals in 2017, where it fell to short against Louisville in its bid to reach the College World Series for the first time in school history.

“This team was built a long time ago,” Kentucky coach Nick Mingione said. “When you think about recruiting in baseball, guys commit when they’re freshmen in high school, and sophomores. And to have all those guys come through and deliver in that moment and watch them celebrate, it doesn’t get any better as a coach because they’re the ones that have made the pitches. They’re the ones that have made the plays. They are the ones that went to the workouts. They’re the ones that went to class. They’re the ones that do it.

“And when you get a chance to just see pure joy, it’s one of the best feelings as a coach. That’s the only thing you could ever hope for on a field is to watch your team celebrate. And I was soaking it in. And I was loving every second of it.”

The hosts broke a 2-2 deadlock in the sixth inning, scoring two runs for a 4-2 advantage and held on for the final margin. The Wildcats collected six hits off three Indiana pitchers, paced by Devin Burkes, who collected a pair of hits, including a double. Hunter Gilliam drove in two of Kentucky’s four runs in the contest.

Kentucky pitchers Darren Williams and Mason Moore scattered 10 hits on the mound and combined for nine strikeouts. Moore held the border rivals to four hits in the final four innings and fanned five batters.

Indiana (43-20) stranded 10 runners, compared to nine for the hosts.

Six of 10 Southeastern Conference teams that received a bid to the NCAA Tournament advanced to the Super Regionals. No. 2 seed Florida, No. 5 LSU, No. 12 Kentucky, No. 15 South Carolina, No. 16 Alabama and Tennessee will compete in the Super Regionals this weekend.