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Nolan McCarthy's game-winning run: "Oh my gosh, he just did the Pete Rose dive!"

On3 imageby:Tyler Thompson06/10/24


Kentucky Baseball scored the game-winning run to advance to its first College World Series on a strikeout. That sentence is absurd, but 100% true.

In the seventh inning with the score tied at 2-2, redshirt junior outfielder Nolan McCarthy hit his second double of the game, a drive down the left field line that bounced off the wall to set up what could be the biggest play in program history. James McCoy’s sacrifice bunt attempt failed, keeping McCarthy at second. Down 0-2 in the count, Grant Smith swung and missed to strike out, but Oregon State’s catcher lost the ball and the pitcher Nelson Keljo failed to cover home plate, which gave McCarthy the opening he’d been waiting for.

“I saw it squeak by,” McCarthy said of the pitch. “I was running to third. I immediately saw their pitcher wasn’t covering. I think I ran through a stop sign, but it ended up working out. No one was covering home, so might as well take what they’re going to give you.”

“I knew he had it,” Kentucky catcher Devin Burkes said of McCarthy’s run. “As soon as the ball went by and the pitcher was — I don’t know what he was doing, he was looking around or something, I hopped over the fence, and I was, like, ‘Nolan, you’re going!'”

McCarthy kept going past third — past Mingione, who was telling him to stop — and towards home. As he neared the plate, he lunged to score what would end up being the game-winning run, fulfilling a pregame prediction.

“No,” he said when asked if he was worried he’d slid too soon. “I told Robert [Hogan] I was going to Pete Rose dive today and it ended up happening.”

“We were in the bullpen,” Hogan said. “We were, like, oh my gosh Nolan’s doing it. The pitcher is not covering, go. All of a sudden I see him dive. I was, like, oh my gosh, he just did the Pete Rose dive. That was awesome. I remember that.”

Mingione told reporters that he was beyond happy McCarthy ignored him and kept running toward home.

“Nolan is the guy that wants to make the special play,” Mingione said of his “crazy” junior outfielder. “I was telling him to stop verbally, okay, not physically. But the game was in front of him, and I’m happy he went because he saw something. And we allow our players to make decisions on their own.”

“I’m glad he went. He did the Superman dive. He was going to do something that it was going to be, like, it was a Nolan McCarthy moment. You know what I mean? I was telling him to stop, but I actually had my back — it was actually roles were reversed; I saw the catcher catch it. But I didn’t see the pitcher but he did. I thought it was a great play.”

As Hogan put it, McCarthy’s run captured the spirit of this Kentucky Baseball team, which is headed to Omaha for the first time ever, a dream years in the making.

“It just shows how gritty we are and how we’re willing to do everything it takes to win. He’s also, he’s crazy.”

“This is something that Devin and I have been talking about since our freshman year,” McCarthy said of advancing to the College World Series. “Just seeing the way it’s built the last couple of years, it feels like we’ve really kicked the door down now. We have unfinished business. It feels amazing to be the first ones.”

Enjoy that game-winning run through the lens of Aaron Perkins.

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