The University of Kentucky baseball team got back to .500 on the season Tuesday night with a 5-2 win over Indiana at Kentucky Proud Park.
But with a record of 24-24 overall and 6-18 in the Southeastern Conference, a shot at the NCAA Tournament is likely out of the question. Without some wins and some help over the last two weekends of the regular season, the Cats might not even make the SEC Tournament.
Only the top 12 SEC teams make it to Hoover, Ala. And currently, Kentucky sits on the bubble tied with Alabama (27-21, 6-18) for the last spot just ahead of South Carolina (24-23, 5-19). Kentucky has six SEC games remaining.
Kentucky needs wins this weekend at last-place South Carolina to shore up their position. And they need help from No. 18 Texas A&M, which goes to Tuscaloosa to take on the Crimson Tide.
The following weekend, Kentucky closes out the season hosting No. 2 Vanderbilt. An end-of-season sweep by the Commodores last year essentially sealed Kentucky’s fate and cost it a second-consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament. Alabama goes to No. 7 Georgia and South Carolina goes to No. 6 Mississippi State. So, all face uphill battles the final weekend.
The Cats have played one of the toughest schedules in the nation with eight of the nine ranked SEC teams on their schedule plus out-of-conference sets against No. 5 Louisville and No. 10 Texas Tech.
Missing the SEC Tournament would mark a significant setback for third-year Kentucky head coach Nick Mingione, who in his first season led the Cats to their first-ever NCAA Super Regional.
This season, UK has not been able to come close to the pitching prowess of that first Mingione team, giving up 287 runs in 48 games with an ERA of 4.79 as compared to giving up just 281 runs in 66 games with a 3.85 ERA in 2017. The Cats’ offense has also struggled, batting .253 with 269 runs scored compared to a 2017 season when they hit .316 with 484 runs scored.
No team in college baseball has had more Major League Baseball Draft picks (21) since Mingione’s takeover, however.
Kentucky at South Carolina
When: 7 p.m. Friday, noon Saturday, noon Sunday
TV: All three games on SEC Network
Radio: All three games on WLAP-AM 630
Conference and regular-season records through Tuesday night’s games:
Vanderbilt 18-6 (39-0)
Georgia 16-8 (37-12)
Missouri 12-11 (33-16)
Tennessee 10-14 (33-16)
Florida 9-15 (29-21)
Kentucky 6-18 (24-24)
South Carolina 5-19 (24-23)
Arkansas 17-7 (37-12)
Mississippi State 15-9 (38-10)
Mississippi 15-9 (32-17)
LSU 14-10 (30-19)
Texas A&M 12-11 (32-17)
Auburn 12-12 (29-19)
Alabama 6-18 (27-21)