Kentucky baseball facing SEC Tournament elimination after historic regular season

The Kentucky Wildcats jumped out to a 3-0 lead in an elimination game against Arkansas in the SEC Tournament.
Kentucky pitcher Trey Pooser (51)
Kentucky pitcher Trey Pooser (51) / Cyndi Chambers Sports / USA TODAY

With a 39-12 overall record and 22-8 record in the SEC, a program record for conference victories, the Kentucky Wildcats are the No. 2 team in the country and the No. 3 seed in the SEC Tournament, finishing just behind Tennessee in the SEC East due to a tiebreaker. The Arkansas Razorbacks took the No. 2 seed with a 20-10 conference record as the top team in the SEC West. 

Head coach Nick Minigione was named the SEC Coach of the Year for the Wildcats’ surprising season that vaulted the program atop the loaded league, but the success of the regular season didn’t translate into the first game of the SEC Tournament. After receiving a bye through the first round, LSU, last year’s NCAA Champions, knocked off Kentucky 11-0 sending Mingione’s team to the loser’s bracket for a matchup with Arkansas. 

Heading into the SEC Tournament, Kentucky had a case as the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, but now have their backs up against the wall in the SEC Tournament. Travis Smith started on the mound against LSU and immediately got into trouble, giving up one first-inning run and allowing another in the second before being removed for Robert Hogan. 

Luke Holman, LSU’s starting pitcher, kept Kentucky’s electric lineup in check, going six scoreless innings with seven strikeout and no hits allowed. Kentucky managed just one hit in the game. 

Kentucky faced Arkansas for a three-game series back at the start of May, taking two of three games in Lexington. However, Trey Pooser, Kentucky’s Friday starter who will likely be taking the mound on Thursday night in a win-or-go-home game, lost his start against the Razorbacks and gave up three earned runs in 5.1 innings on four hits with four walks and four strikeouts. 

With a 9:30 a.m. CT first pitch at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover Alabama, Pooser got off to a strong start, with four scoreless innings to start the contest. Through four innings, Kentucky leads 3-0 with two runs in the first and a fourth-inning solo home run off the bat of Ryan Nicholson.

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