UK Baseball Blasts Indiana to Force Monday Showdown

The 12th overall seeded University of Kentucky baseball team (39-19, 2-1 REGION) opened the flood gates against the 3-seeded Indiana Hoosiers (43-19, 2-1 region) by a final score of 16-6 in the sixth game of the NCAA Lexington Regional at Kentucky Proud Park.
UK baseball celebrates a homerun from Nolan McCarthy in the NCAA Regional Final against Indiana.
UK baseball celebrates a homerun from Nolan McCarthy in the NCAA Regional Final against Indiana.(UK Athletics)
Published: Jun. 4, 2023 at 9:23 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) -The 12th overall seed University of Kentucky baseball team (39-19, 2-1 region) opened the flood gates against the 3-seeded Indiana Hoosiers (43-19, 2-1 region) by a final score of 16-6 in the sixth game of the NCAA Lexington Regional at Kentucky Proud Park.

The win will force a decisive 7th game on Monday- winner between UK and IU will advance to the Super Regionals Friday.

After shutting-out two-seed West Virginia in a noon game 10-0 Sunday, one-seed UK kept their season alive to get another shot at IU. The Wildcats had already faced the Hoosiers twice this year, splitting the two games. UK beat IU 12-2 in 7 innings in March, and on Saturday in the NCAA Regional, 5-3.

Senior right-hand pitcher Logan Martin got the start on the mound for the Cats. He got three innings in after not pitching more than two innings in as many months.

“Just really proud of our guys’ toughness. Obviously to play two games in one day with your back against the wall and I think it was no more evident than the way our hitters stood in there and wore HBPs. How many times did we get hit? Nine times. Real toughness,” said Head Coach Nick Mingione post game. “Love the grit of Logan Martin. Good to get him back out there. Obviously he started in the Friday night role and we’ve gone basically an entire season without him. To get him back, kudos to Logan, our training staff, our strength coach, everybody to get him back.I thought Evan Byers was great. And Ryan Hagenow, just huge innings and outs for us. Proud of their toughness. Proud of our toughness. I know you guys aren’t surprised that we were able to do that. I can’t say enough good things about them.”

In their second game of the day, the Wildcats kept the bats warm. Sophomore outfielder Nolan McCarthy hit a three-run home-run in the top of the second inning to get on the board first. A wild pitch from IU freshman righty Ethan Phillips let senior infielder Grant Smith plate another for the Bat Cats.

“We all know we can hit. We’re a really good offense. We can do small ball and we can also leave the yard. I just think we’ve got everything going for us. Going into tomorrow we, just take gotta it one pitch at a time,” McCarthy said.

Indiana answered in the bottom of the third; first sophomore infielder Evan Goforth hit a solo homerun, then freshman outfielder Devin Taylor had an RBI single to bring in another, making the score 4-2, Kentucky.

The two teams traded runs in the fourth- redshirt senior first baseman Hunter Gilliam with a two-run RBI, then sophomore OF Carter Mathison hit another Hoosier solo home run, making it a 6-3 ballgame.

In the top of the 5th, sophomore catcher Devin Burkes hit a two-run homer to give the Cats a five-run lead. That marked his second home run in regional play, his 8th on the season.

Sophomore OF/INF Ryan Waldschmidt got in on the action next inning, with an RBI double to make it 9-3, Kentucky, but IU answered with another RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 9-4.

In the top of the 7th, a wild pitch from sophomore righty Cooper Hellman, a WKU transfer and North Oldham grad, would let senior INF Jace Felker score, marking UK’s 20th run of the day, but they weren’t done- sophomore INF Emilien Pitre had an RBI double to right-center, then Gilliam, the team captain, followed it up with a three-run blast to take a 10-run lead. The Cats weren’t finished- Waldschmidt knocked one out of KPP for another 2 runs, the Wildcats led 16-4 midway through the 7th.

“I mean, momentum is cool and all. But this win expires when we wake up or when we go to bed tonight. So we’re going to create our own momentum tomorrow. And that’s the momentum we are worried about is pitch one tomorrow,” Gilliam said.

The Hoosiers didn’t go quietly. In the bottom of the 9th Goforth has an RBI double, followed up by redshirt junior and Louisville transfer Bobby Whalen knocking an RBI single up the middle. The Cats needed one more out, so senior short stop Ryder Giles came in on relief for junior righty Ryan Hagenow, who threw 77 pitches.

Kentucky scored a combined 26 runs in 18 innings on Sunday. 16 is the most runs in an NCAA Tournament game in program history for UK.

The Cats were hit by 14 pitches on the day, including nine against Indiana Sunday, and 21 throughout the duration of regional play (14 by IU).

“There’s grown men up in that locker room who aren’t afraid -- you could throw it 150 miles an hour and we’ve got dudes, I promise you, who will stand in there. It doesn’t faze us. It fires up the boys and we love it,” Gilliam said.

Game 7: Kentucky vs. Indiana, Monday, June 5 at 6:00 P.M. (time is subject to change, TV TBD)

Winner of the Lexington Region faces the winner out of the Baton Rouge region next weekend.