The last time the Kentucky Wildcats faced the Louisville Cardinals in baseball, it was in the 2017 Super Regional at Jim Patterson Stadium. The Cards defeated the Cats and ended their magical season that saw UK make their first-ever appearance in a Super Regional. But that was last season and this year, it’s the Cats that entered the game ranked in the top 10 (#9) while the Cards edged into the top 25 at #21. Both teams started their seasons strong but stumbled a bit as conference play started (UL 19-8, 5-7 ACC; UK 19-9, 3-6 SEC). However, this was a rivalry game, so anything could happen.
An attendance record was set for a single regular season game (4,798) in spite of the threat of thunderstorms. The originally scheduled start time of 6:30 pm was moved up to 4:00 to hopefully avoid the worst of the inclement weather. On top of that, the wind was gusting fairly strongly, making those of us sitting outside in the media overflow area chase down errant stat sheets, empty drink cans, or the occasional computer mouse. Would this play in favor of the visitors?
What happened was not a thing of beauty for either team. Louisville struck first with a single run in the 1st inning, but the Cats answered with 2 runs of their own. In the top of the 2nd, the Cards regained the lead by scoring 2 runs and it appeared we were going to have an old-fashioned shootout.
In the bottom of the 2nd, the Cats loaded up the bases for Tristan Pompey who delivered with a single in the gap to left field and brought in 2 runs. A short time later, a throwing error by the Cards resulted in another run being scored by the Cats and they took a 5-3 lead and would never trail again.
Ultimately, there were 13 walks between the 2 teams, 8 errors (5 uncharacteristic ones by the Cats), and 6 batters hit by pitches (5 times by Louisville pitchers). No, the game was not a thing of beauty, but it was a win and that is all that matters. The Cats could have easily gotten down on themselves after the errors, but they fought through the missteps and stayed focused on the task at hand.
There were some positives to take away from the game, though. Tristan Pompey had 3 RBIs, Carson Coleman picked up his first career win, and Chris Machamer notched the save, pitching 2 1/3 innings. Also of note was the fact Kentucky executed 2 double-plays against the Cards who had only hit into 13 DPs the entire season.
Listen to Coach Mingione’s post-game remarks here:
After Sunday’s win against Alabama and tonight’s victory against the rival Cards, this should set up the Cats for a successful series against the visiting South Carolina Gamecocks this weekend. With only 14 regular season games remaining at The Cliff in its final season, this would be a great time to come out and support the Cats.
Next up: South Carolina – Friday 6:30 pm, Saturday 6:00 pm, and Sunday 2:00 pm
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