Congratulations to the Kentucky Wildcats, who defeated the Mississippi St. Bulldogs today in Hoover, Alabama, by a final tally of 5-1. Kentucky now moves to 2-0 in the SEC tournament, and draws the bye into Saturday where they will face the winner of the LSU Tigers, who eliminated the Mississippi Rebels today, and MSU, who was handed their first loss today by the Wildcats in the tournament.
Related: Box score
This same MSU team took the broom to the Wildcats last weekend in Starkville, and I reckon the Bat Cats didn't take to kindly to that rude treatment. Kentucky really brought the lumber today as they consistently hit Bulldog pitching, and unlike last weekend, was sure-handed in the field. Their line was 5 runs on 12 hits, and unlike their last meeting with the Dawgs, zero errors.
There were no real heroes in this game, it was a complete team effort from start to finish. The 'Cats were sharp offensively and defensively. Jerad Grundy pitched a quality game with six full innings and only 1 run allowed, including nine strikeouts and one inning, I believe it was the third or fourth, where he struck out the side.
Alex Phillips was razor sharp in his three innings of relief, allowing not a single hit from the same Bulldog batsmen who shelled Wildcats pitching last Saturday for 11 runs on 14 hits. Most of the commentariat blamed that loss on three Wildcats errors, but 14 hits tells the tale to me.
This pivotal victory places Kentucky into Saturday's SEC Tournament semifinal, where they will face either the LSU Tigers or MSU. Win that one, and UK will be in the SEC Tournament final on Sunday against either the South Carolina Gamecocks, Auburn Tigers, Vanderbilt Commodores or Florida Gators.
Your offensive star today was Thomas McCarthy (3b) who went 4 for 5, scored 3 times and had 1 RBI. McCarthy had been in a wee bit of a slump lately, and saw his average drop below .300 for the first time since mid-May, and he responded with a huge effort today. Star freshman Austin Cousino (cf) had his lead-off bat uncharacteristically silenced today. Freshman DH A.J. Reed had another strong outing going 2 for 4 with 2 RBI's.
Great game all around for Kentucky, who looked very sharp. This cannot sit well with form UK and now MSU coach John Cohen, so if we wind up facing the Dawgs again on Saturday, look for a genuine barn-burner. Cohen has been in trouble with the league for his antics with the officials regularly since moving to MSU, and he was at it again today, although he didn't lose control and place himself in jeopardy of a suspension. Cohen has a fiery temper, and we may see that if we have to face MSU again.