Beyond the outfield wall at Cliff Hagan Stadium, there sits a porch, affectionately dubbed “The Cliff” where students normally gather for Kentucky baseball games.
For Tuesday’s home opener on a breezy 70 degree evening, The Cliff couldn’t come close to holding the party that spilled out into the parking lot behind, part of a record crowd of 4,118 for a single regular season game. Never mind the score (Kentucky lost 3-2 to Xavier), the celebration of the return of baseball and a glimpse of spring had the outfield jumping.
“There’s a party going on out there in the outfield,” Kentucky Coach Mingione said after the game, smiling. “I’m trying to get our outfield’s attention, and I’m sitting there going, ‘well, they can’t hear.’ I think they were playing Garth Brooks or something out there.”
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Music blared from some of the vehicles in the parking lot, so loud it could be heard up in the press box.
It’s fair to say the party out there became a thing to itself with the throng singing and dancing to its own tunes, but a T.J. Collett home run in the sixth inning sailed directly at The Cliff and brought its attention around for a bit. The homer tied the game at 2-2.
Kentucky continues its home stand with a three-game series against Oakland this weekend. The first game begins at 4 p.m. Friday.
This year marks the 50th and final season for the Cats at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The team will move to a new field under construction off Alumni Drive next year.