Will Sunday’s late super regional start time hurt Kentucky baseball?

Did Kentucky baseball receive a raw deal on its NCAA Tournament super regional?

We’re not talking about the draw. As the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA Baseball Tournament, the Wildcats were lined up to play No. 15 seed Oregon State in the super-regional round, provided both teams were able to win their way out of their respective regional.

We’re not talking about the site. As the No. 2 seed, Kentucky is deservedly the home team for the best-of-three series that begins Saturday and runs through Monday (if necessary) at Kentucky Proud Park.

NCAA Baseball Tournament bracket

We’re talking about the scheduled starting times of the games. The first pitch time of 6 p.m. is fine. Baseball at sundown and under the lights at KPP is not a bad thing, as we saw last weekend when the Cats beat Illinois 6-1 on Saturday and 5-0 on Sunday. The 9 p.m. start for the second game is a different story.

Kentucky baseball fans sing along with the music before the seventh inning against Illinois at Kentucky Proud Park last weekend.
Kentucky baseball fans sing along with the music before the seventh inning against Illinois at Kentucky Proud Park last weekend.

That’s 9 p.m. on a Sunday. Even if the game starts on time, it is likely to last until midnight, if not later. People have to go to work on Monday morning. The passion of UK’s home crowds have been an advantage for Nick Mingione’s team to this point. (“I thought we really had a tough time taking their crowd out of it,” said Indiana State coach Mitch Hannahs after Sunday’s game.) It will be interesting to see if the late Sunday start lessens the attendance and enthusiasm of the UK crowd.

We know why this is happening, of course. TV rules everything. With Oregon State being a team from the Pacific Time Zone, Beavers fans won’t have a problem tuning in for the 6 p.m. PT start. And the World Wide Leader wants the NCAA to stack the start times of the eight super regionals to draw the biggest television audience possible.

That is one piece of goods news. Unlike last weekend, there will be no ESPN+ streaming to worry about this weekend. Both UK games, Saturday and Sunday, are scheduled to be on ESPNU.

This weekend

No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 15 Oregon State

What: NCAA Tournament super regional

When: Saturday-Monday

Where: Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington

At stake: Winner of best-of-three series advances to College World Series



Saturday: 6 p.m. (ESPNU)

Sunday: 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

Monday (if necessary): TBA (TBA)

NCAA super regionals

Here are the pairings for this weekend’s super-regional round of the NCAA Tournament. Each matchup is a best-of-three series, with the winner advancing to the College World Series (Teams listed with overall NCAA seed at start of 64-team tournament):

Starting Friday

Evansville (38-24) at No. 1 Tennessee (53-11)

UConn (35-24) at No. 8 Florida State (45-15)

Kansas State (35-24) at No. 12 Virginia (44-15)

West Virginia (36-22) at No. 4 North Carolina (45-14)

Starting Saturday

No. 15 Oregon State (45-14) at No. 2 Kentucky (43-14)

No. 10 North Carolina State (36-20) at No. 7 Georgia (42-15)

Florida (32-28) at No. 6 Clemson (44-14)

Oregon (40-18) at No. 3 Texas A&M (47-13)

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