Scout/Jeff Drummond

Kentucky Wildcats pound St. Joe's 16-9, give new coach Nick Mingione first win

UK explodes for 14 hits in first victory of season.

Kentucky banged out 14 hits Friday to beat St. Joseph's 16-9 in Norfolk, Va., and hand new Wildcats head coach Nick Mingione the first victory of his career.

The Cats (1-4) had  suffered tough luck in their first four games of the season, losing three by one run. They were able to get the big hits on this day, however, which included a seven-run fourth inning to overcome an early 5-0 deficit. Nine of UK's first 10 batters reached base safely in the big inning. 

“We will never stop competing,” Mingione said. “We’re up big, down big, it doesn’t matter. This team is good. We did not panic. Good teams get their approach right and keep competing and that’s what we did.”

UK rapped out 14 hits and drew 12 walks to keep the pressure on St. Joseph’s pitching staff. Six players had multiple hits and eight scored runs in the team effort.

Marcus Carson continued his hot start in going 3-for-4 with a triple, two runs and two RBI, while Luke Becker added a three-run double on his way to four RBI. Zach Reks also continued to see the ball well, going 2-for-3 with two walks, three runs and an RBI.

Junior right-hander Zach Pop (1-0) earned his first career win in relief of starter Sean Hjelle, pitching 3.2 scoreless innings with four strikeouts.

The game was the first of three for UK in Old Dominion’s weekend tournament. The Cats face the host Monarchs on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET and Delaware at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday before returning to Lexington.

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