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Kentucky and Arkansas will meet in Third Round of SEC Tournament

IMG_8756by:Daniel Hager05/22/24

DanielHagerKSR

No. 3 seed Kentucky opened SEC Tournament play on Wednesday with an 11-0 loss to No. 11 seed LSU, meaning the Cats will have to fight out of the loser’s bracket for the remainder of the Tournament.

Kentucky will face No. 2 seed Arkansas in the Third Round of the Tournament on Thursday, where the loser will be sent home from Hoover.

The Cats won their series against Arkansas 2-1 at the beginning of May. SEC Pitcher of the Year Hagen Smith dominated in the series opener, but Kentucky outscored the Hogs 18-7 over the final two games to win their first series over Arkansas since 2012.

No. 2 Arkansas (43-13, 20-10)

Arkansas won the SEC West crown this season for fifth time in the last six seasons, earning the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament.

Just like Kentucky however, the Razorbacks were upset on Wednesday by a lower seeded team. No. 10 seed South Carolina used a ninth inning two-run home run from Cole Messina to hold off Arkansas 6-5, remaining in the winner’s bracket.

Arkansas second baseman Peyton Stovall will get another chance to play against Kentucky, which was a series he dominated earlier this season. Stovall went 7-15 with two doubles, a home run, and four RBI.

Stovall doubled twice in Arkansas’ Wednesday loss to Carolina.

With their SEC Tournament lives on the line, the Razorbacks may throw Hagen Smith on the mound Thursday against Kentucky. Smith mowed down the Wildcat offense when they met on May 3, striking out 14 while allowing just three hits in six innings pitched. He’s 9-0 with a 1.52 ERA in 77 innings pitched this season.

Arkansas and Kentucky are both poised as Regional and Super Regional hosts, so a Thursday loss won’t make or break their seasons. 2022 National Champion Ole Miss lost its opening game in the Tournament and 2021 National Champion Mississippi State lost its only two games in the Tournament.

No. 3 Kentucky (39-13, 22-8)

Wednesday was an all out disaster for the Cats, who notched just one hit in the loss.

The only positive was the relief outings from right-handers Robert Hogan and Johnny Hummel, who combined to allow just one hit and no earned runs in five innings of work. Other than that, scrap everything from Wednesday and do something different on Thursday.

Wednesday’s loss marked the second time Kentucky has been shutout this season, and just the third time they’ve been run-ruled.

“You’ve got to be able to move on,” Nick Mingione said postgame. “This team has done that as good as any team I’ve ever coached and I’m confident they’ll do the same thing.”

Third baseman Mitch Daly notched Kentucky’s lone hit on Wednesday, a single to center field to lead off the seventh.

Émilien Pitre will look to get the offense going on Thursday, as he shined against the Razorbacks earlier this season. In 10 at-bats, Pitre notched three doubles and a home run with six RBI.

Right-handed pitcher Trey Pooser will likely get the Thursday start for Kentucky. The College of Charleston transfer boasts a 3-1 record with a 4.24 ERA in 51 innings of work as a starter. He held the Razorbacks to four hits and three earned runs while striking out four batters in 5 1/3 innings on May 3.

If Thursday is it for Kentucky, they’ll head back to Lexington and prepare for its second consecutive Regional, which will begin May 31.

Probable Starters

ALL-TIME SERIES: Arkansas leads 47-28

Thursday, May 22, 2024 (Hoover Metropolitan Stadium – 10:30 a.m. EST) SEC Network
UK: RHP Trey Pooser (4-1, 4.34 ERA, 64 1/3) vs ARK: TBD

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2024-06-19