Missed opportunities haunt UK Baseball in SEC Tournament defeat
HOOVER, Ala. (UK Athletics) – The Kentucky baseball team left 14 runners on base and made several uncharacteristic defensive miscues that ultimately led to a 4-1 defeat to Florida in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
The defeat dropped the Wildcats to 29-23 on the season and, barring an unlikely at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, ended their season.
True to form this season, the Cats didn’t go down without a fight. They had traffic on the bases all day, out-hit the Gators 11-5 and put themselves in position to score the upset and extend their season, but the timely hit never came. It started early when Austin Schultz was hit by a pitch to open the game and T.J. Collett followed with a booming down to right field. Indicative of what was to come, Collett’s ball took a big bounce, clipped the top of the fence and bounded into the Florida bullpen, forcing Schultz to stop at third. The Cats never were able to push him across.
Ultimately, the Cats went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, the lone RBI coming on a line drive double into the left field corner by sophomore John Rhodes. For his part, Rhodes collected his first three-hit game of the season and was hit by a pitch for the 18th time this season.
Defensively, Florida managed to plate three unearned runs after Jacob Young’s leadoff home run. A dropped foul ball in the first inning led to a two-out run and a throwing error on what should have been a routine double play opened the door for two more runs in the fifth after the Cats had closed the gap to 2-1.
UK’s pitchers were mostly excellent with starter Sean Harney allowing four hits and one earned run in 4.1 innings. Senior Daniel Harper relieved him and pitched three scoreless innings in what is likely his final collegiate game.
Bottom 1st – Young homered on the first pitch of the inning. Hickey hit by a pitch, Calilao walked. Thompson singled to LF, Hickey scored. Florida 2, UK 0.
Top 5th – Austin Schultz singled through the right side and Coltyn Kessler singled to RCF. John Rhodes lined a double over the 3B head, scoring Schultz. Florida 2, UK 1.
Bottom 5th – Calilao walked to open the inning. Thompson hit a double play ball to second that turned into a throwing error, Calilao to second. Rivera walked to load the bases. Acton singled to RF, scoring Calilao. Guscette hit into a fielder’s choice, Thompson scored.Florida 4, UK 1.
- UK is 30-22 overall, 12-18 in SEC play.
- The Cats are 5-16 vs. ranked teams this season and 4-10 vs. Top 10 foes.
- UK now is 22-37 all-time in the SEC Tournament and 1-4 during coach Nick Mingione’s tenure.
- Sophomore OF John Rhodes went 3-for-4 with a double, HBP and RBI.
- Has reached safely in 17 straight games and 25 of last 26 overall.
- He notched his 11th multi-hit game of the season and 21st career.
- Rhodes was hit by a pitch for the 18th time this season, which ties him for seventh on single-season list with Braden Kapteyn (2011), Micheal Thomas (2013) and Austin Cousino (2014).
- He has drawn a walk and/or been hit by a pitch in 34 games this season.
- Senior 1B T.J. Collett went 1-for-5 with a double.
- Has reached base safely in 26 of his past 28 games.
- Junior IF/OF Austin Schultz went 1-for-4 with a run and HBP.
- Schultz has reached base safely in 100 of 110 career games with a plate appearance.
- He has recorded a hit in 84 of those 110 games.
- Junior OF Cam Hill went 2-for-3 with a walk and his ninth bunt base hit of the season.
- Senior RHP Daniel Harper pitched 3.0 innings of shutout baseball in relief.
- Harper allowed just one hit, one walk and struck out two.