No. 2 national seed Kentucky dispatches Illinois 6-1 at Lexington Regional

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Ryan Nicholson put Kentucky ahead to stay with a two-run home run in the second inning, Ryan Walkschmidt added a two-run shot and an RBI double, and Trey Pooser tossed seven stellar innings to lead the No. 2 national seed to a 6-1 victory over Illinois on Saturday night at the Lexington Regional.

Illinois (35-20) will play an elimination game against Indiana State (43-14) on Sunday. Kentucky (42-14) will play the winner. If the Wildcats lose, a third game will be played on Monday to decide the championship and which team will be heading to a super regional.

Kentucky to a 2-0 lead when Mitchell Daly was hit by a pitch to lead off the second and Nicholson followed with a shot over the fence in left-center field.

Illinois pushed its lone run across in the bottom of the fourth to get within a run. Jacob Schroeder singled with two outs, took second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Brody Harding.

The Wildcats answered with Waldschmidt’s run-scoring double in the top of the fifth and Emilien Pitre’s RBI groundout in the seventh for a 4-1 lead. Waldschmidt homered to left center with nobody out in the ninth after No. 9 hitter Grant Smith drew a leadoff walk.

Pooser (6-1) surrendered just one run on five hits and two walks in seven innings, striking out seven. Ryan Hagenow allowed one hit and a walk in two shutout innings. He struck out three and earned his third save.

Payton Hutchings (4-3) took the loss for the Fighting Illini. He gave up three runs on four hits and two walks in five innings.

Kentucky won regional titles last season and in 2017 but has never been to the CWS. Illinois won its only regional title in 2015 and has also never played in the CWS.


AP college sports:

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