The SEC regular-season baseball championship will come down to the final game. After clobbering fifth-ranked Florida in the series opener, sixth-ranked Kentucky took a 14-3 beating in Game 2 on Friday night.
So it all comes down to Saturday, with the Wildcats (38-17, 19-10 SEC) needing to beat the Gators (39-15, 20-9) and have LSU (38-17, 20-9) lose at Mississippi State to create a three-way tie atop the final standings. The league would crown them all co-champions, but UK would take the No. 1 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament by virtue of series wins over both teams.
After the Cats hammered Florida’s ace on Thursday night, the Gators turned the tables Friday. The home team delivered 16 hits, drew 7 walks and scored multiple runs in the second, third, fifth and eighth innings.
It was such a frustrating night for Kentucky that Nick Mingione, a relentlessly upbeat coach, drew his first career ejection. Now he and the Cats must regroup and refocus for a shot at just the second SEC title in program history.
The big stick + arm
The designated hitter was one of the few bright spots for UK on Friday as he went 2 for 4 with a 2-run homer in the top of the seventh inning to extend the Wildcats’ streak to 74 consecutive games without being shut out. Cottam is 5 for 9 with 4 RBI so far in the series and has raised his batting average to .308.
LP Zach Logue
The junior lefty saw his record fall to 6-5 and his earned-run average balloon to 5.51 after allowing six runs (with just two strikeouts) in a 3-inning appearance.
What’s next for Kentucky?
The Wildcats and Gators play again Saturday at 1 p.m. (SEC Network-plus) in Gainesville. Listen on 630 AM-WLAP in Lexington. Then it’s on to the SEC Tournament next week in Hoover, Ala. Kentucky is already guaranteed to be a top-four seed, so it will not open play until Wednesday.