Mingione knows the task won’t be easy for Cats in Super Regional – Harlan Enterprise

Mingione knows the task won’t be easy for Cats in Super Regional

Published 2:46 PM Friday, June 7, 2024

Kentucky baseball coach Nick Mingione knows the task won’t be any easier for the Wildcats as they dive deeper into the postseason.

After a three-game sweep to win the NCAA Lexington Regional last weekend, the Wildcats (43-14) will take on Oregon State in a best-of-three series for a spot in the College starting Saturday at Kentucky Proud Park World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Beavers (45-14) won the NCAA national championships in 2006-07 and again in 2018 as Kentucky looks for its first-ever appearance on the big stage.

“They’re legitimately as complete a team as we’re going to face,” Mingione said. “They have only lost fourteen games all year. They pitch at a super high level. They have a unique guy on the back end who can throw a sidearm. They defend the field well. They bunt, they steal, they attack, they can score in different ways and they have a pitching staff that can really throw.”

Oregon State’s offense is led by Travis Bazzana, a second baseman who is expected to be among the top players chosen in the Major League Baseball Draft. He is currently hitting .415 and has hit 28 home runs, with 65 RBI. He is one of the top players in the country.

“We keep watching videos about him (and) he’s a super-talented player,” Mingione said. “Not only does he have the ability to punch and hit for power, but he can absolutely fly. So this is a little bit different than maybe some of the other guys where you mentor them, there’s no threat of a stolen base.

“This guy is super, super talented on so many levels and his speed is one of the things that changes the game for him. We will have to be very careful and continue to watch videos of what is the best way to attack him.”

On the mound, Oregon State is followed by right-hander Aiden May (7-0, 2.88 earned run average). Starting pitchers Jacob Kmatz (7-2, 3.29 ERA), Eric Segura (6-1, 4.93 ERA) and closer Bridger Holmes (13 saves, 1.97 ERA) anchor Oregon State’s pitching staff.

Overall, Mingione said the Beavers will match up well against the Wildcats.

“After you look at them, there are a lot of similar characteristics,” Mingione said. “They have the ability to steal bases, they have the ability to hit home runs, they hit for average. It’s a team filled with guys throughout the lineup that know how to work and work their way through at-bats, much like us.

Kentucky and Oregon State have never met on the diamond. The series begins Saturday at 6 p.m. and the second match of the best-of-three showdown begins Sunday at 9 p.m. Both games will be shown on ESPNU. If necessary, a third and decisive match will be played on Monday at a time to be determined.

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