UK baseball faces College World Series elimination after offense shut down by Texas A&M

For the first time in seven NCAA Tournament games, Nick Mingione’s Kentucky baseball team has lost.

Now, the No. 2 seed Wildcats face a win-or-go-home scenario in the College World Series after a 5-1 defeat to No. 3 seed Texas A&M in Omaha, Nebraska.

The game started as a pitchers duel with both starters holding the opponent scoreless through five innings, but while UK starter Mason Moore had to work around steady traffic on the bases, Kentucky did not record a hit against Texas A&M ace Ryan Prager until there were two outs in the seventh inning.

Texas A&M blew the game open with a five-run sixth inning, chasing Moore from the game and putting added pressure on a UK offense finding no success against Prager.

Here is what you need to know about the game.


Texas A&M’s patient offense finally broke through against Mason Moore in the sixth inning.

Top 2025 MLB draft prospect Jace LaViolette led off the inning with a walk and moved to third on a double from catcher Jackson Appel. Designated hitter Hayden Schott then drove home the first two runs of the game with a single.

After Moore walked another batter, Mingione replaced him with right-handed reliever Cameron O’Brien.

O’Brien had thrived in the NCAA Tournament when placed in similar jams — this time there were two on with no outs — by allowing just two of eight inherited runners to score and no balls hit out of the infield in those situations, but after starting his appearance with a strikeout his magic finally appeared to run out.

Shortstop Ali Camarillo drove home another run with a double over the head of right fielder James McCoy. Second baseman Kaeden Kent, the son of former ML MVP Jeff Kent, then singled home two more runs to make it 5-0.

Kentucky shortstop Grant Smith dives for a ground ball against Texas A&M during the fifth inning at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska.
Kentucky shortstop Grant Smith dives for a ground ball against Texas A&M during the fifth inning at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska.


First baseman Ryan Nicholson ended Prager’s no-hit bid with a two-out single in the seventh inning, but Kentucky did have multiple scoring opportunities earlier in the game.

The first two UK batters reached in the second inning thanks to an error and a hit-by-pitch, but right fielder James McCoy was thrown out by inches on a two-out squeeze bunt attempt to end the threat. A walk and another error gave Kentucky men on first and second with one out in the sixth inning, but catcher Devin Burkes grounded into a 5-3 double play to end the inning.

Prager, who ranks as the No. 59 prospect in the 2024 MLB draft class, left the game after center fielder Nolan McCarthy followed Nicholson’s single with a double in the seventh. Texas A&M reliever Josh Stewart then struck out pinch hitter Patrick Herrera to escape the jam.

Kentucky put two more runners on with two outs in the eighth inning, but designated hitter Nick Lopez took a called strike three to end the inning shortly after just missing a double that landed inches foul down the right-field line.

Nicholson prevented the shutout with a solo home run in the ninth, tying Jeff Abbott, John Wilson and AJ Reed for the single-season UK record (23). Nicholson has five home runs in seven NCAA Tournament games.

To avoid elimination, Kentucky might need more contributions from the top of its lineup Tuesday. No. 2 hitter Émilien Pitre has been one of the Wildcats’ best hitters in the NCAA Tournament, but leadoff hitter and first-round draft prospect Ryan Waldschmidt is now 5-for-27. No. 3 hitter Burkes is 4-for-25.


While generally limiting damage, Moore’s control has been an issue in three NCAA Tournament starts.

He has now walked 12 batters in 14 1/3 innings across his last three starts. Moore has been able to work around many of those walks, but like he did in his super-regional start against Oregon State he appeared to hit a wall in the sixth inning against Texas A&M.

The margin for error was razor thin with his offense failing to collect a hit to that point, so an otherwise strong start ended in disappointment with four runs allowed on five hits in five innings.

Only one of the fifth inning runs was charged to O’Brien, but he did not look as sharp pitching on two days rest for the second time in the tournament. O’Brien had surrendered just three hits in 7 1/3 NCAA Tournament innings before surrendering two hits and one walk in one inning of work against Texas A&M.

Left-handed reliever Evan Byers pitched the final three innings without surrendering a run, keeping the game from turning into a blowout while saving the rest of Kentucky’s bullpen. Pitching depth will now be essential if UK is advance from the losers’ bracket.


Kentucky’s path to the championship series just got a lot more difficult. Had the Cats won Monday, they would have needed just one more victory to reach the finals. Now, UK needs to win three games in three days to do so, including beating Texas A&M twice.

Before getting a shot at a rematch with the Aggies, Kentucky will have to win an elimination game against Florida at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Now Mingione must decide whether to start left-handed pitcher Dominic Niman, the Wildcats’ normal Saturday starter, in that game or try to piece together nine innings with relievers. Niman has struggled mightily for most of the last two months. Included in that stretch was a start in which he gave up six runs in four innings in a start at Florida.

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