After a fast start, the Kentucky offense has hit a few bumps in the SEC road facing the talented arms of Vandy and Florida, losing their first two weekend series of the year. In the six games against the ‘Dores and Gators, the UK offense managed only 16 runs while hitting a combined .239 as a team. But, on paper, this looks like a good weekend for the Cats to get back to the way they were swinging the bats in the first half of conference play as they welcome a struggling Alabama squad to Lexington this weekend. The Tide is/are just 7-17 in SEC play and has yet to scratch on the road sitting at 0-12. A sweep would go a long way as the Cats look to secure just the second SEC Baseball Championship in school history, but two of three is a must as they sit one game behind South Carolina and LSU in the SEC race with just six league games remaining.
Alabama comes into the 9th SEC weekend last in ERA (5.68) during conference play, almost a full run worse than Tennessee (4.84). The Crimson Tide has continually juggled their weekend starters looking to find the right combination, but Fr. RHP Spencer Turnbull was inserted as the Friday night starter three weeks ago and has been very effective, allowing just 3 ER over 18 innings. His most impressive start came two weeks ago on the road at South Carolina when he had a no-hitter through 7 innings before lightning and weather caused the game to be delayed until the following day. Fr. LHP John Keller will get his 7th conference start on Saturday, followed by Jr. RHP Charley Sullivan on Sunday, who will be making his 6th start of conference play in the finale.
Friday (7:00 CSS):
Spencer Turnbull (Fr. 2-4 4.56)
Taylor Rogers (Jr. 5-3 4.81)
Saturday (2:00 FS-S):
Jon Keller (Fr. 1-5 4.14)
Jerad Grundy (Jr. 4-2 4.08)
Charley Sullivan (Jr. 2-2 5.03)
Corey Littrell (So. 7-0 2.30)
Just like the struggles on the mound, the story is the same for the Crimson Tide at the dish. Alabama hitters are last in the league in batting average (.253) and are in the bottom third of the conference in every major statistical category, including hitting only 19 homeruns for the season. For comparisons sake there are four teams, including Kentucky, that have hit more during conference play alone.
The Tide is led at the plate by a pair of outfielders, Fr. Ben Moore and Sr. Taylor Dugas. Moore leads all SEC freshmen with a .352 batting average and is 4th among all hitters in league play with a .366 average, but has just three extra base hits (all doubles) during conference play. Dugas, an 8th round pick of the Chicago Cubs last year, is considered one of the best defensive outfielders in the conference and is hitting .343 on the year, leading Bama in extra base hits with 12 doubles and 6 triples. On Saturday, Dugas set the school record for hits in a career, breaking former big leaguer Andy Phillips 13-year old record. He now holds the school record for hits, singles, doubles and triples. Sr. SS Jared Reaves and Jr. C Brett Booth are tied for the team lead with 4 homeruns apiece.
South Carolina 16-8 (@ UGA, LSU)
LSU 16-8 (Vandy, @ USC)
Kentucky 15-9 (Bama, @ MSU)
Florida 14-10 (MSU, @ Auburn)
Kentucky holds the tiebreaker over USC and LSU, but would lose a tie with Florida.
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