UK Relief Pitchers Shine at Right Time


Robert Hogan celebrates during UK's win Sunday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Kentucky baseball head coach Nick Mingione has said all season that his team is at its best when the Cats pitch well and play solid defense. UK was able to do both of those things once again on Sunday night, playing solid defense and getting a huge effort from its bullpen in a 3-2 win over Oregon State at Kentucky Proud Park.

Starting pitcher Mason Moore was not at his best in Sunday’s game. The Morehead native went 3.1 innings and didn’t give up a hit. However, he walked six batters and allowed two runs while striking out four.

However, the UK bullpen stepped up in a big way. It started with right-hander Cam O’Brien, who relieved Moore. O’Brien came into a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth inning but promptly struck out Trent Caraway and Mason Guerra to get the Cats out of any further trouble.

O’Brien would pitch three important innings, giving up no runs and just one hit while striking out five batters. He credited his pitching coach for calling a great game.

“Once again (pitching) Coach (Dan) Roszel called a great game,” O’Brien said. “He’s been nails in the postseason. So we’re just going out executing quality pitches, trusting what he calls. And Dev has us back there behind the plate. We’re just going on the attack and executing quality pitches.”

Junior righty Robert Hogan relieved O’Brien in the seventh inning and inherited a runner on second base with just one out. After walking Guerra, Hogan was able to strike out Golden Spikes Award finalist Travis Bazzana. With two outs, Hogan induced Micah McDowell to line out, closing the frame.

In the eighth inning, Hogan was able to get around a one-out walk with no damage done as the Cats continued to hold a 3-2 lead. He said his plan against Oregon State was pretty simple.

“Just making our pitches. The biggest thing was just throwing strikes,” Hogan said. “They haven’t seen us before. So that’s to our advantage. They haven’t played us all year. We haven’t played them. So we get to learn every day. And so just making our pitch, see what happens. And that was the best outcome for us.”

UK head coach Nick Mingione was impressed with both O’Brien and Hogan on Sunday, especially the way they came up huge for the team when the Cats needed them most.

“Cam has been our fireman,” Mingione said. “He started throwing the ball as good as he’s thrown. And same with (Hogan).”

Hogan got the first two outs of the ninth inning before walking Guerra. Ryan Hagenow came in for Hogan and gave up a single to Bazzana, giving the Beavers runners at first and third with two outs.

That’s when the Cats turned to closer Johnny Hummel, who struck out McDowell on three pitches to send the Cats to Omaha for the first time.

Kentucky’s bullpen, as a whole, pitched 5.2 innings, allowing no runs and just two hits while walking three and striking out nine. That effort was enough to hold off Oregon State and propel the Cats to their first-ever College World Series appearance.


2 Responses

  1. I think I’d move Nicholson down to 3 or 4 spot. He’s hot right now and getting him to the plate sooner is ideal. But I also get if it ain’t broke don’t fix it either.

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