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Kentucky Baseball Stays Hot, Downs Mississippi State 12-3

Daniel Hager03/18/23


Article written by:On3 imageDaniel Hager


Photo via Morgan Simmons | UK Athletics

For the 13th consecutive game in a row, the Kentucky Wildcats baseball program has come away with a victory.

The Bat ‘Cats entered this weekend facing scrutiny from fans of other SEC programs, who repeatedly filed Kentucky away as a fluke due to their weaker non-conference schedule. A phrase that could be used in this situation, however, is “mess around and find out.” The Bulldogs found out for the second game in a row, as Kentucky used a five-run fifth inning to take down Mississippi State 12-3 and clinch the series victory.

LHP Tyler Bosma got the start for Kentucky and continued his solid season. Bosma lasted 4.2 innings, allowing just four hits and three earned runs. He was replaced by RHP Ryan Hagenow in the fifth. The heart of the Wildcat lineup, the trio of Burkes-Pitre-Gilliam, continued their strong play. Those three finished Saturday’s matchup combining for four hits and six RBI. This trio has emerged as one of the strongest middle lineups in the entire SEC.

Bulldogs Strike First

After allowing a four-run first inning to Kentucky in Friday night’s matchup, the Bulldogs got on the board first in this one. Mississippi State’s home run leader Hunter Hines kicked off the top of the second inning with a solo home run, his ninth of the season. The Bulldogs added to their lead in the top of the fourth inning. Hines hit his second home run of the day, this time bringing in two runs. The ‘Cats trailed 3-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth.

RHP Landon Gartman got the start for Mississippi State and was impressive through the first three innings. After three, Gartman had allowed zero hits and struck out seven of the first 10 batters he faced. His fortunes would soon change however in the bottom of the fourth.

Following Jase Felker and Émilien Pitre walks, Hunter “The Captain” Gilliam homered to center field, bringing in three runs and notching his fourth home run of the season. Gilly’s RBI total on the season has swollen to 30, six ahead of Devin Burkes’ 24 for the team lead.

The Big Blue Floodgates Open Up

Tied 3-3 through five innings, the Kentucky offense did what they have done best this season: score runs in bunches. An offensive onslaught broke out in the bottom of the fifth inning for Nick Mingione’s team, as they scored five runs to put themselves on top 8-3.

After Chase Stanke drew an inning-opening walk, Jackson Gray knocked a double to right field to move Stanke to third. Jackson Gray was then plunked, loading the bases for Jase Felker. Felker laced a single up the middle, scoring both Smith and Stanke. Following a Devin Burkes walk to re-load the bases, Mississippi State’s Gartman was pulled. Things had gone from smooth sailing to a tsunami for the senior.

Émilien Pitre greeted Mississippi State’s new pitcher Tapper with a single up the middle, scoring two more runs for the Wildcats. For the third time in the fifth inning, Ryan Waldschmidt singled to re-load the bases. Burkes, who had a big lead off third, swiped home on a passed ball. The ‘Cats led 8-3 after five, and they weren’t finished yet.

Wildcats by TKO.

Kentucky continued to pile on runs in the sixth and seventh innings. The sixth was highlighted by a Devin Burkes little-league home run. Burkes knocked a simple single into center field that was misplaced by State CF Colton Ledbetter. Jackson Gray scored easily as Devin Burkes raced around the bases. Dev also scored easily, pushing the Wildcat lead to seven.

In the seventh, James McCoy didn’t need a little-league home run, as he belted a big-league home run. McCoy knocked his first career homer 414 feet to drive in two runs, increasing the Kentucky lead to nine.

After entering in the fifth inning, Hagenow finished this game off for the ‘Cats. Hage pitched the final 4.1 innings, allowing just one hit and no earned runs. He finished with five strikeouts as well. With their 13th consecutive win, the ‘Cats improve to 17-2 on the season and will be looking for their third straight sweep on Sunday.

Game three of the Mississippi State-Kentucky series is slated to start at noon Sunday at Kentucky Proud Park. The Bat ‘Cats will be looking for their 14th consecutive victory.

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