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Kentucky baseball advances to College World Series for first time in program history

LEXINGTON — A historic season for Kentucky baseball is rolling on. The next stop: Omaha, Nebraska, for the College World Series.

It marks the first time the Wildcats have ever reached the grandest stage in the sport. After two previous NCAA Tournament Super Regional appearances — both ended with UK losing in sweeps in best-of-three series on the road in 2017 (Louisville) and 2023 (LSU), respectively — Kentucky broke through at Kentucky Proud Park in a game that wrapped up after midnight Monday, taking out three-time national champion Oregon State, 3-2, to seal its spot in this year's CWS field. UK's one-run win in Game 2 came after a dominant, 10-0 triumph in Saturday's opener.

The run to their maiden College World Series is the latest example of the Wildcats exceeding outsiders' expectations. Despite winning 40 games and advancing to a super regional last year, SEC coaches expected little of UK in 2024: in a preseason poll, voted on by the league's coaches, Kentucky was picked to finish fifth in the seven-team Eastern Division.

Jun 9, 2024; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats outfielder Ryan Waldschmidt (21) holds up the NCAA Super Regional Championship trophy after winning against the Oregon State Beavers at Kentucky Proud Park. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 9, 2024; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats outfielder Ryan Waldschmidt (21) holds up the NCAA Super Regional Championship trophy after winning against the Oregon State Beavers at Kentucky Proud Park. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

UK proceeded to author the best start in conference play in SEC history, winning 14 of its first 15 games. The Wildcats finished with a 22-8 record in league play during the regular season. Kentucky's 22 SEC wins set a single-season record for victories in conference competition and helped it claim a share of the league's regular-season title for only the second time in program history.

The Wildcats enter the College World Series with a 45-14 record. The 45 wins are tied with the 2012 club for most in a single campaign in school history. It's Kentucky's eighth 40-win season, and coupled with its 40 triumphs last year, it marks the first time in the program's annals it reached that mark in consecutive seasons.

Jun 9, 2024; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats infielder James McCoy (13) holds up the NCAA Super Regional Championship trophy after winning against the Oregon State Beavers at Kentucky Proud Park. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 9, 2024; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats infielder James McCoy (13) holds up the NCAA Super Regional Championship trophy after winning against the Oregon State Beavers at Kentucky Proud Park. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Among other team-wide accomplishments for the Wildcats in 2024:

Jun 9, 2024; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats infielder James McCoy (13) celebrates after Kentucky gets the final out to win against the Oregon State Beavers at Kentucky Proud Park. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 9, 2024; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats infielder James McCoy (13) celebrates after Kentucky gets the final out to win against the Oregon State Beavers at Kentucky Proud Park. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Individually, Kentucky coach Nick Mingione was named the conference's coach of the year (voted on by his coaching counterparts in the league), while five players earned All-SEC honors: designated hitter Nick Lopez (first team), outfielder Ryan Waldschmidt (second team), second baseman Émilien Pitre (all-defensive team), third baseman Mitchell Daly (all-defensive team) and pitcher Mason Moore (all-defensive team).

Reach Kentucky men’s basketball and football reporter Ryan Black at rblack@gannett.com and follow him on X at @RyanABlack.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky baseball to College World Series 2024. UK CWS bracket info?