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Kentucky downs Arkansas 9-6 to stay alive in SEC Tournament

IMG_8756by:Daniel Hager05/23/24


No. 3 seed Kentucky looked much better in Thursday’s third round matchup, as it took down No. 2 seed Arkansas 9-6 to stay alive in the SEC Tournament.

After notching just one hit in Wednesday’s loss, the Cats totaled 10 hits and nine runs in Thursday’s win. Ryan Waldschmidt broke out of his mini-slump, hitting two home runs to drive in three runs.

Kentucky improved to 3-1 against Arkansas this season and handed SEC Pitcher of the Year Hagen Smith his first loss since June 4, 2023 (TCU).

With the win, Kentucky stays alive in the 2024 SEC Baseball Tournament and will play the loser of Thursday’s game between No. 10 seed South Carolina and No. 11 LSU on Friday at 3:00 p.m. CST/4:00 p.m. EST. Thursday’s win was Kentucky’s first in the SEC Tournament since May 28, 2022 (LSU).

Players of the Game:

  • LF Ryan Waldschmidt: Waldschmidt belted two home runs, totaling three RBI.
  • RHP Trey Pooser: Pooser pitched five innings, allowing just three hits and no earned runs with three strikeouts.
  • 1B Ryan Nicholson: Nicholson hit his 18th home run of the season, a solo shot to extend Kentucky’s lead to three in the fourth inning.

Cats jump on the Hogs early

It took seven innings for Kentucky to notch its first hit of the game in Wednesday’s loss to LSU. It took just two batters to do so against the SEC Pitcher of the Year Hagen Smith on Thursday.

After a scoreless first inning for Kentucky starter Trey Pooser, Ryan Waldschmidt led off the bottom of the first with a walk. He was followed by Émilien Pitre, who snuck a single up the middle to put runners on the corners.

Hoover finally got a taste of what Kentucky Baseball is all about, as Devin Burkes layed down an RBI sac-bunt to score Waldschmidt from third. Kentucky’s first inning run marked its first in the SEC Tournament since May 28, 2022 (Tennessee).

The Cats weren’t done scoring in the first yet however, as Émilien Pitre attempted to steal third base. Arkansas catcher Hudson White’s throw down to third sailed into left field, allowing Pitre to trot home safely.

Arkansas’ Ben McLaughlin attempted to get one of those runs back in the top of the second, as he belted a hard-hit ball back to the center field fence. Kentucky center fielder Nolan McCarthy however timed it perfectly to rob McLaughlin of a solo shot in what was one of the best plays of the entire season.

Big Blue Bombs extend Kentucky’s lead

Pooser continued to keep the Hogs at bay, keeping them scoreless through the first four innings. With Arkansas’ recent offensive struggles, two-to-three more Wildcat runs would seem like enough to put them over the top.

Mitch Daly led off the bottom of fourth off by flying out to the warning track, falling just shy of a solo home run. He however was followed by Ryan Nicholson, who got the job done.

On a 2-0 count, Nicholson belted a no-doubt solo home run over the right center field wall to extend Kentucky’s lead to three. His fourth inning home run marked his 16th of the season. 16 of his 18 home runs have come against SEC teams.

After yet another scoreless inning from Pooser, Ryan Waldschmidt tacked on another Wildcat run in the bottom of the fifth via a solo home run to left center field. Waldschmidt’s fifth inning Big Blue Bomb marked his first hit of the Tournament, as he was 0-4 entering the at-bat.

Trey Pooser turns in masterful start

Right-hander Trey Pooser was great in Thursday’s start, as he allowed just three hits and no earned runs with three strikeouts in five innings of action. In any normal game he would’ve gone much longer, but with the NCAA Tournament on the horizon, you keep your best guys on a pitch count.

In his two starts against Arkansas this season, Pooser allowed seven hits and three earned runs with seven strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings of work.

A Nick Lopez two-run single in the bottom of the fifth extended Kentucky’s lead to six, but the Wildcat bullpen would once again let the opposing team right back into the game.

Left-hander Jackson Nove opened the sixth inning on the mound and loaded the bases with just one out. An RBI-groundout from Wehiwa Aloy brought across the first Razorback run of the game, but logged just the second out.

With two runners still on base, Arkansas’ Peyton Holt belted his fifth home run of the season, a no-doubter over the left field fence. Suddenly, it was a brand new ballgame as Arkansas had pulled within two.

Waldy puts game on ice

After Arkansas pulled within two, it seemed like momentum was squarely in the favor of the Hogs. As right-hander Ryan Hagenow took over on the mound with two outs in the sixth, the Razorback faithful called the Hogs as it seemed like another blown Wildcat lead was possible.

However, Hagenow took control of the game. After forcing the last out in the sixth inning, he held the Hogs scoreless in the seventh as well. Clinging to a two-run lead, Ryan Waldschmidt made sure the Cats wouldn’t be heading back to Lexington yet.

Waldschmidt belted his second home run of the game, a two-run Big Blue Bomb that traveled 420 feet over the left field fence.

Cue the Spiderman celly.

Left-hander Evan Byers pitched the final 1 1/3 inning and allowed just one run. He allowed a Jared Sprague-Lott solo home run with two outs in the ninth, but no more. Byers struck out Hudson Polk to end the game.

Victory, Cayts.

What’s next for No. 2 Kentucky?

No. 3 seed Kentucky will play will play the loser of Thursday’s game between No. 10 seed South Carolina and No. 11 seed LSU on Friday at 3:00 p.m. CST/4:00 p.m. EST.

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