Cats earn overall No. 2 seed in NCAA baseball tournament

Published 3:14 pm Thursday, May 30, 2024

Kentucky earned a No. 2 national seed in the NCAA baseball tournament and will host Western Michigan in the Lexington Regional opener set for noon Friday at Kentucky Proud Park.

The Wildcats (40-14) also will host Big 10 champion Illinois and Missouri Valley Conference winner Indiana State. Western Michigan captured the Mid-American Conference title. The 16 regional tournaments will feature a double-elimination format, with the winners advancing to the Super Regionals. If Kentucky advances in the Lexington Regional, the Wildcats will host the winner of the Corvallis Regional.

Southeastern Conference tournament champion Tennessee was chosen as the overall No. 1 seed, followed by league members Kentucky (No. 2), Texas A&M (No. 3) and Arkansas, which is a No. 5 seed. Overall 11 teams from the SEC will compete in the 64-team tournament: Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida along with the top four.

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The rise in national prominence, Kentucky coach Nick Mingione said, was a credit to “so many amazing people in the program.”

“When people come to this facility and they have recruiting visits and they walk around and see this place and the things and the people. I remind them not to miss the best part about it – the people who are in it,” he said. “It is truly a special place.”

Mingione said the team’s memorable experiences will prove to be beneficial both in the present and in the future.

“Christen and I have always said that about Reeves (Mingione’s son),” he said. “We don’t want to give him things, we want to give him experiences. That’s what he will remember for the rest of his life. He will remember experiences. He’ll remember sitting down in that room at that selection show and looking up and seeing Kentucky as the No. 2 seed. He’ll remember that.”

Kentucky, co-champions in the Southeastern Conference, went 1-2 in the conference tournament. Kentucky lost to 11-0 to eventual tourney runner-up LSU 11-0 in the opening round. The Wildcats defeated Arkansas 9-6 in the second game before bowing out of the tournament with a 6-5 loss to South Carolina Friday in Hoover, Alabama.

Despite the early exit from the conference tournament, Mingione said the Wildcats also will savor winning a share of the conference championship.

“Our players will remember winning that (Southeastern Conference) championship on that Friday night here at Kentucky Proud Park — they’ll remember that. They’ll remember seeing their names pop up as the No. 2 national seed. They’ll remember this postseason. We’re in the business of making an impact on people’s lives and when you hear them say it, it means a lot.”

Lexington Regional

Friday, May 31

Game 1 – Kentucky vs. Western Michigan, 12 p.m., SEC Network
Game 2 – Illinois vs. Indiana State, 7 p.m.

Saturday, June 1

Game 3 – Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser, Noon
Game 4 – Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner, 6 p.m.

Sunday, June 2

Game 5 –  TBD vs. TBD, Noon

Game 6 – TBD vs. TBD, 6 p.m.

Monday, June 3 (If necessary)

Game 7 – TBD vs. TBD, TBD