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Kentucky's season comes to an end following 15-4 loss to Florida in MCWS

IMG_8756by:Daniel Hager06/19/24

DanielHagerKSR

Kentucky Baseball’s dream season came to an end following its 15-4 loss to Florida Wednesday afternoon.

The Cats scored first on Wednesday, but a seven-run opening frame for the Gators put Kentucky into an early six-run deficit. Florida outscored Kentucky 15-3 following Nick Lopez‘s first inning RBI-single.

Florida belted three home runs, two of which came off the bat of Brody Donay. Phenom Jac Caglianone belted a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, setting the program record at Florida for career home runs (75).

Kentucky won a program record 46 games this season en route to its second SEC co-Regular Season Championship in program history. The Cats then won their first Super Regional to head to the College World Series, where they won their first MCWS game ever.

What a season it was.

Jun 19, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA; Kentucky Wildcats right fielder James McCoy (13) attempts to catch the grand slam ball by Florida Gators designated hitter Brody Donay (29) during the first inning at Charles Schwab Field Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Disaster first inning for Kentucky

Kentucky didn’t score until the seventh inning of Monday night’s loss to Texas A&M. It however took just four batters for the Cats to scratch across their first run of the game Wednesday morning.

Ryan Waldschmidt, who had yet to notch a single hit in the College World Series, opened the game with a walk and ended up on second after a botched Florida pickle attempt. Waldschmidt put himself in position to score with two outs in the inning, bringing up Nick Lopez.

Lopez lofted an RBI-single to right field, bringing in the All-SEC Second Teamer from second to give Kentucky a 1-0 lead. Good vibes in the Wildcat dugout however didn’t last too much longer.

Kentucky started left-hander Dominic Niman, who had pitched to a 15.17 ERA in his prior 17.1 innings entering Wednesday’s game. His recent luck did not change against the Gators.

After allowing a leadoff single to Jac Caglianone (who reached second on a James McCoy misplay in right field) and plunking Cade Kurland, Niman gave up an RBI-double to Colby Shelton to tie the game with just one out.

Florida’s next batter Luke Heyman then brought in two more runs on an RBI-single, giving Florida a quick 3-1 lead. After hitting his second batter of the game, Niman was finally pulled. He lasted just 1/3 inning, marking the third time he’s failed to make it out of the first inning this season.

He was replaced by right-hander Cameron O’Brien, who immediately gave up a single to load the bases. This brought up DH Brody Donay, who got into a jawing match with O’Brien during their series in Gainesville a month ago. Donay took O’Brien deep to right field for a grand slam, giving the Gators a 7-1 first inning lead.

Jun 19, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA; Florida Gators designated hitter Brody Donay (29) celebrates hitting a grand slam with right fielder Ashton Wilson (30) against the Kentucky Wildcats during the first inning at Charles Schwab Field Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Can’t script a start worse than that.

Gators tack on two more in the third

Kentucky was unable to cut into the six-run deficit, which eventually turned into an eight-run deficit in the third inning.

After putting two Gators on via a HBP and a single, phenom Jac Caglianone came up to bat. Caglianone of course was intentionally walked, loading the bases for Cade Kurland. Kurland delivered with a two-run single to center field, extending the Florida lead to eight.

Nick Lopez drove in his second RBI-single of the game in the top of the fourth, but that was all the Cats could muster with one out and runners on first and second.

Florida drills dagger in five-run fifth inning

An Émilien Pitre two-run home run in the top of the fifth pulled the Cats within five, but whatever hope came from that was quickly dashed in the latter half inning.

Florida’s Brody Donay opened the half inning with a 417-foot solo home run to left field, notching his second of the game. A bunt RBI-single for Tyler Shelnut, a Luke Heyman RBI-double, and a Ashton Wilson bloop two-run double down the right field line capped off a five-run fifth inning for the Gators.

Suddenly the score was 14-4, and this game was well out of reach for Mingione’s Wildcats.

Jun 19, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA; Florida Gators second baseman Cade Kurland (4) hits a 2 RBI double against the Kentucky Wildcats during the fourth inning at Charles Schwab Field Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky’s season comes to an end

Following Florida’s five-run fifth inning, Nick Mingione began substituting players such as Patrick Herrera, Kyuss Gargett, and Nebraska native Eli Small. The white flag was officially waived.

Things got even worse for the Cats in the sixth inning, when Jac Caglianone made history with his 75th career home run. He belted a foul ball out of the stadium earlier in the at-bat, so you knew it was coming.

Kentucky notched just two hits over the final five innings, putting things to rest with a Pat Herrera flyout to center field. The Gators will now try to keep their season alive Wednesday night against Texas A&M, while Kentucky’s season comes to an end.

Thanks for following along for what was an incredible season of Kentucky Baseball.

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2024-07-19