LEXINGTON, Ky. - The top-seeded Kentucky baseball team locked in its first-ever trip to an NCAA Division I Baseball Championship Super Regional with a 10-5 win over No. 3 seed NC State in front of a record Cliff Hagan Stadium crowd on Monday night.
The Wildcats moved to 43-21 after claiming the Lexington Regional crown, thanks in part to a 4-1 finish on the extended weekend. NC State finishes its season at 36-25, coming up one game shy of a potential fifth Super Regional appearance in program history.
Despite a heavy bout of rain that delayed the game's first pitch to 9:20 p.m. ET, 5,005 fans made their way to The Cliff for Monday night's elimination contest. The Cats ended the first three innings without a run, but senior center fielder Marcus Carson broke open the scoring for the host team with a double down the right-field line with the bases loaded in the top of the fourth, bringing home a pair of runners and tying the game at 2-2. Kentucky tacked on two more in the inning, securing its first lead by the middle of the fourth.
After six innings, NC State had regained a 5-4 advantage. However, UK sophomore Tristan Pompey capitalized on a Wolfpack fielding error in the top of the seventh, sparking a three-run inning that propelled the Wildcats to a lead they would not relinquish.
Carson led the offensive charge on the day, totaling 2-for-5 with one run and three RBIs. Kentucky catcher Kole Cottam went 2-for-4 with one run and two RBIs, while junior designated hitter Luke Becker concluded a perfect 3-for-3 day with an RBI of his own. NCSU left fielder Brett Kinneman hit the game's only home run, ending his day at 1-for-4 with a hit and two RBIs.
First Team All-Southeastern Conference performer and SEC Pitcher of the Year Sean Hjelle improved his season record to 11-3 on the mound, striking out five and walking none without allowing a single run or hit over 3.1 innings of work. NC State lefty Cody Beckman was tagged with the loss, allowing three runs and one hit while walking two and striking out two more in three.
Kentucky advances to next weekend's Super Regional in Louisville, Kentucky, for a best-of-three series with the Louisville Cardinals. The in-state rivals split the regular season series at one game apiece, with each emerging victorious at home.