UK Baseball

Bat Cats coach will face his former team this weekend

Kentucky baseball coach Nick Mingione, right, talked with outfielder Tristan Pompey before an at-bat against Eastern Kentucky this season. Mingione’s Cats will take on Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., this weekend. He coached there the past eight seasons.
Kentucky baseball coach Nick Mingione, right, talked with outfielder Tristan Pompey before an at-bat against Eastern Kentucky this season. Mingione’s Cats will take on Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., this weekend. He coached there the past eight seasons. cbertram@herald-leader.com

The University of Kentucky baseball team’s next series will have special meaning for Coach Nick Mingione.

The No. 8-ranked Cats are in Starkville, Miss., this weekend for a three-game series against No. 19 Mississippi State (20-11), where Mingione spent the past eight seasons as an assistant coach and the program’s top recruiter. The Bulldogs’ pitching coach is Gary Henderson, the man Mingione replaced at UK this season. And MSU’s athletic director is John Cohen, who coached Kentucky to the 2006 Southeastern Conference title before working with Mingione from 2009-2016 as the Bulldogs’ head coach.

UK (21-9), making its first trip to Starkville since 2012, has won all three series so far against SEC opponents this season. The Cats have beaten Vanderbilt and Mississippi at Cliff Hagan Stadium, and they opened the conference season with a three-game sweep at Texas A&M.

The Bulldogs are led by junior outfielder Brent Rooker, who is batting .436 and slugging .949. Rooker has 18 doubles, three triples, 12 home runs and 50 RBI in 31 games.

UK will send Sean Hjelle to the mound on Friday against MSU’s Konnor Pilkington. Friday’s game at Dudy Noble Field starts at 7 p.m. ET.

Mississippi State has not announced this rest of its weekend rotation, but UK will start left-hander Zach Logue on Saturday (7 p.m. ET) and right-hander Justin Lewis on Sunday (2 p.m. ET).

All three games will be broadcast on the radio at WLAP-AM 630 and be available to watch online at ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

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