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Missed opportunities cost Kentucky baseball in SEC Tournament against South Carolina – Kentucky Kernel

Pitching issues and missed opportunities on offense cost No. 2 Kentucky baseball (40-14 23-10 SEC) against South Carolina (36-22 14-17 SEC) by a score of 6-5, ending to Kentucky’s run in the SEC tournament.

“We want to go out and make quality pitches and we let a few too many get away from us today,” Cameron said said O’Brien. “We have to focus on that before the postseason.”

Kentucky first baseman Ryan Nicholson during the Kentucky vs. Tennessee baseball game on Saturday, April 20, 2024, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky lost 9-4. Photo by Sydney Yonker | Staff (Sydney Yonker)

The Bat Cats took advantage of an error and mental lapse by the Gamecocks as Nolan McCarthy doubled to right field to score two and give the Wildcats the lead.

However, the first missed opportunity for offense also came in the second inning, as Ryan Waldschmidt struckout with runners on second and third base to end the second.

After getting one out, Wildcat starter Mason Moore walked Park Noland before giving up a single to Kennedy Jones.

Moore got another out, but the walk came back to haunt him when Gavin Casas fired a breaking ball for a three-run home run to give South Carolina the lead.

After both teams were held scoreless in the third, a single by Mitchell Daly, another error by the Gamecocks and a walk for Grant Smith loaded the bases for Waldschmidt. South Carolina’s defense folded again as the third baseman was unable to field a grounder from Waldschmidt, tying the game and leaving the bases loaded.

Émilien Pitre then walked with the bases loaded to give the Wildcats a 4-3 lead.

Devin Burkes had a chance to break the game open and increase the Wildcats’ lead, but he struck out to end the inning and strand the runners.

Moore held strong after the second as he pitched back-to-back scoreless innings before giving up a game-tying home run to Will Tippett in the fifth.

The righty bounced back nicely by getting two outs, but things quickly went south from there as two walks and two hit-by pitches gave the Gamecocks the lead and ended Moore’s afternoon.

Kentucky infielder Nick Lopez scores at home during the Kentucky vs. Lipscomb baseball game on Friday, March 1, 2024 at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky, as Kentucky won 7-4. Photo by Sydney Yonker | Staff (Sydney Yonker)

“When Mason is at his best, he’s ahead in the count and he was too far behind in the count today,” Mingione said.

O’Brien inherited the bases-loaded mess and walked Dalton Reeves to extend the South Carolina lead to 6-4.

The Wildcats created an offensive opportunity for themselves in the top of the eighth when Ryan Nicholson hit a one-out double to bring home Nick Lopez and bring the Bat Cats within one.

Nolan McCarthy came on and lined a shot to first base, but Nicholson got too far from second base and hit a double to end the inning and spoil another opportunity for the Cats.

“If you hit a ball in the infield, you had to bounce back and we didn’t do that,” Mingione said. “We didn’t run that baserunning play and it was obviously a costly play.”

The Wildcats went three-up, three-down in the top of the ninth to end the ball game and their run in the SEC Tournament.

Kentucky will wait for the NCAA Tournament selection show to see its seed and who it will face in the Lexington Regional early next week.

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