Having trouble getting registered or subscribing? Email us at info@kysportsreport.com or Private Message CitizenBBN and we'll get you set up!

Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. #1

    College Baseball Primer for the Casual Kentucky College Baseball Fan

    There are some hardcore college baseball fans on the board, and some really diehard Kentucky baseball fans. And there are others who are a little more casual, but enjoying the season Kentucky is having, and haven't really been into college baseball much, if any, over the years. This is for them. And I don't mean to be too simple for anyone here, but this is a primer, and is meant for anybody.

    Kentucky plays baseball in the SEC. It has traditionally been the best college baseball conference in America, occasionally sharing that with the ACC, which is also very good. Usually about 8 teams get invitations to the NCAA tournament, which invites 64 teams, just like basketball.

    This year, the SEC got 8 teams in the field of 64 as well.

    The NCAA tournament is set up with 16 Regionals. Many of the SEC teams earned a # 1 seed (top 16 team), and were allowed to host their Regional, Kentucky included.

    Of the eight SEC teams making the field of 64, six of them advanced as the winners of their Regionals: LSU, Florida, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. That means that 6 of the final 16 teams in the country are from the SEC.

    The format for the NCAA Tournament is sort of a 3-step process:

    a) The 16 Regionals mentioned above, in a double elimination format, seeded # 1 through # 4. Winners produce 16 teams remaining.

    b) When the field is reduced to those 16 teams, it advances to what are called "Super Regionals." The Super Regionals are a unique format--there are only 2 teams in each "Super Regional," pitting one Regional champion against another Regional Champion in a best two-of-three series.

    The Super Regionals are pitted in advance--so you knew, for example, that the "Lexington Regional" champion would face the "Louisville Regional" champion before the Regionals even began. Kentucky won the Lexington Regional, so they advanced to face Louisville, who won the Louisville Regional, and the three games will all be played in Louisville at their home field.

    Why?

    The NCAA selects 8 "National Seeds" who they believe are the top 8 teams in the country, before the tournament begins. Louisville was the # 7 National Seed. All eight National Seeds, if they win their Regional, are guaranteed to host the "Super Regional."

    Kentucky was, by all accounts, the # 9 team according to the NCAA, just missing out on a coveted National Seed. Stanford drew the # 8 national seed, and objectively, had a case for earning it with their very hot play down the stretch, winning something like 21 of their final 23, while Kentucky lost a series to Georgia, lost a series to Florida, and lost two-of-three in the SEC tournament in 3 of their final 4 weekends.

    (Side note--Stanford did not win their Regional).

    Rather than the NCAA re-seeding, or changing the matchups when an upset or two happens, they keep the original Super Regional matchups, and just award a hosting to one of the teams that pulled the upset. So a team like Kentucky, next in the pecking order, would not get a chance to host a Super Regional unless their Super Regional opponent/National Seed lost. Louisville did not lose, so that's why we play in Louisville.

    c) The winners of the 8 Super Regionals advance next week to Omaha in the College World Series. We can discuss this more in detail should Kentucky defeat Louisville twice, but the CWS format is, basically, two Regionals, then a Super Regional, in effect. Basically, the tournament divides the eight teams into two four-team double-elimination brackets, just like a Regional. The winner of each of those two brackets will meet in a best two-of-three championship series to determine the winner.
    Last edited by Darrell KSR; 06-06-2017 at 01:04 PM.

  2. #2

    Re: College Baseball Primer for the Casual Kentucky College Baseball Fan

    About Kentucky:

    This is the first time in Kentucky's history that we have made a Super Regional, although it is not the closest we have been to the College World Series--yet. In 1988, the NCAA tournament format was different, consistent of eight Regionals with six teams each in it. Kentucky received the # 3 seed in the Northeast Regional that year, and defeated Rutgers, St. Johns, and Clemson to advance to a best-of-three matchup with Stanford for the right to go to the College World Series. So that year we were two wins away from the College World Series, which is exactly where we are today.

    I remember that 1988 matchup, and I kept thinking when I heard people say Kentucky had never been to a Super Regional that they were wrong. Well, they were right--it wasn't a Super Regional then, but it was exactly the same thing. There were 16 teams remaining, and they played a best-of-three series to go to the CWS. But it wasn't called that then, it was just the finals of the 8 Regionals, when they only had 48 teams in the NCAA tournament.

    So this year's Kentucky team has made history.

    Kentucky finished 2nd in the SEC East, and earned a # 3 seed overall in the SEC Tournament, which was a big deal, as it gave them a first day bye. It resulted in them winning on Day 2, before dropping their next two games. Had Kentucky won 1-2 more, they likely would have earned a National Seed, which would have pitted us in another Super Regional against another opponent not named Louisville, and hosting now.

    This year's Kentucky team is 43-21, two victories away from tying their all-time season victories record of 45 set in 2012 under then head coach Gary Henderson, named SEC Coach of the Year. First-year head coach Nick Mingione was similarly named SEC Coach of the Year this season.

    What is it about this year's Kentucky team that makes them so good?

    Kentucky has the SEC pitcher of the year in Sean Hjelle, who won Friday night's game in the Regionals, and closed out the Regionals as the winning pitcher by facing the minimum number of 10 batters in 3.1 innings. Hjelle is a sophomore. Kentucky has also had stellar starting pitching with Justin Lewis, a fellow sophomore this season, and Kentucky's usual "Sunday starter." Kentucky has received a badly needed shot in the arm with their midweek starter, Zack Thompson, a star freshman, my guess for the possible 3rd starter if the Super Regionals goes to three games against Louisville, although Zach Logue, last night's starter, has been a normal weekend starter for Kentucky all season. Recently coach Mingione has him coming out of the bullpen for extended innings, where he has been very effective.

    In addition, Kentucky has perhaps the SEC's best closer, Logan Salow, who has 12 saves on the season for Kentucky. Salow was effective in three games in the Regionals, although he battled through fatigue yesterday in his time on the mound to get the job done.

    Offensively, Kentucky has been the SEC's leading batting attack all season. While some point to Kentucky's Cliff Hagan Stadium and the shallow dimensions of the field being responsible for lofty numbers, the truth is that Kentucky has had an effective batting attack both home and away this season. The team bats an impressive .319 as a TEAM. Tristan Pompey and Evan White are both around .370, with Reks right behind at around .360, and Mahan at around .340. Kentucky's # 8 hitter bats over .300, Marcus Carson, and the diminutive 5'8 center fielder had a home run in each of the two games on Sunday to help UK to wins, along with 3 RBIs and a double last night in the championship game. In short, the entire team can hit--singles, doubles, and home runs. Players like Kole Cottam are red hot as well, batting around .500 in postseason.

    Defensively, Kentucky has generally been stellar since Tyler Marshall has returned to play the hot corner at 3rd base. Connor Heady is having his very best season, making the left side of the infield terrific. Riley Mahan underwent a position change, and has evolved into a very good 2nd baseman, and Kentucky's first baseman is the best defensive first baseman in baseball. Period.

    In the outfield, Marcus Carson in center field had some difficulty this weekend, allowing a ball most thought he should have caught to escape for a triple in the loss against North Carolina State Saturday, and an error last night bobbling a ball as well. But Reks and Pompey in right field have been solid, and Carson has had a good season otherwise, and for the most part, the outfield is considered good defensively as well.

    Nick Mingione has pushed all the right buttons with this team from the dugout, strategically and motivationally, and Kentucky's pitching and batting coaches deserve much praise as well. Final praise should go to Kentucky's predecessor coach, Gary Henderson, who recruited many of the players who are responsible for this year's success. Kentucky's baseball recruiting has been generally top 15 most years under Henderson, and there are some terrific, MLB-type talented kids on the team. We will lose some of them to the draft after this season, but the freshmen and sophomores, such as Sean Hjelle, Justin Lewis, Zack Thompson, and Tristan Pompey, will be returning for at least one more year next year, as the baseball rule says that you can draft kids out of high school, or after their 3rd year in college (and 4th).

  3. #3

    Re: College Baseball Primer for the Casual Kentucky College Baseball Fan


  4. #4

    Re: College Baseball Primer for the Casual Kentucky College Baseball Fan

    Thank You! Obviously I'm not a new UK fan [not new at all in any way anymore] but I admit I'm just beginning to follow UK baseball much. It's not that I'm a fan of any other college team or any MLB teams now. I loved , I mean LOVED, baseball growing up but the first strike hit when I was 16 and I never understood it. Looking back I can see the players point, but tell that to a 16 year old. Then the guys I grew up watching [the Big Red Machine guys, Schmidt, Brett, etc. began to leave and I fell a little further then the 95 strike and juicing finally did it for me.

    I think only UK excelling could have gotten me back into it. I'll never be a huge MLB fan again but I'm all in on UK on the diamond.

    On a side note. I cannot remember the last time I saw kids playing sandlot.

  5. #5
    Comeback Cat Hoss's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Kentuckiana
    Posts
    3,974

    Re: College Baseball Primer for the Casual Kentucky College Baseball Fan

    Terrific breakdown! As a casual fan, that was solid info!

  6. #6

    Re: College Baseball Primer for the Casual Kentucky College Baseball Fan

    "I remember that 1988 matchup, and I kept thinking when I heard people say Kentucky had never been to a Super Regional that they were wrong. Well, they were right--it wasn't a Super Regional then, but it was exactly the same thing. There were 16 teams remaining, and they played a best-of-three series to go to the CWS. But it wasn't called that then, it was just the finals of the 8 Regionals, when they only had 48 teams in the NCAA tournament."

    The very reason I went and edited a post in another thread. Thanks Mr. Cartwright for helping me keep this foggy old memory straight. It is heck getting older, but it beats the alternative.
    Compromise: An amiable arrangement between husband and wife whereby they agree to let her have her own way.

Bookmarks

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •