The Kentucky Wildcats went down to the Mississippi St. Bulldogs 2-1 in Hoover, Alabama this afternoon in the SEC baseball tournament semifinal. The Wildcats were trying to reach the SEC tournament final for the first time since it has been in Hoover, but they fail in a tightly-contested game.
Kentucky played well, but they just could not put together enough hits in succession to get any runs across. Kentucky managed eight hits in the game, but stranded runners on base inning after inning, particularly in the later innings. It was an incredibly frustrating game for Kentucky, including stranding the tying run at third in the ninth with the leadoff batter and Freshman of the Year, Austin Cousino, at the plate, when Cousino popped out to shortstop to end the game. Corey Littrell is charged with the loss, the win probably goes to Nick Routt who worked 3.1 innings for the Bulldogs.
Three times in the last three innings, the Wildcats had the tying run in scoring position, but simply couldn't plate a run. Credit MSU's pitching staff, who really got the job done and now have played five straight days to get into the final. Despite the victory on Thursday, it seems that John Cohen still owns Gary Henderson from a coaching standpoint. A frustrating loss for Kentucky, but they will almost certainly host a regional, although they will equally certainly not receive a national seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.
The star of the game today for Kentucky had to be J.T. Riddle, who went 3 for 4 with a home run. He hit his final ball hard that could have brought home a run, but it was caught near the warning track for the third out in the 8th.
Overall, Kentucky's pitching staff did a great job as well, this was just one of those tough, one-run games that you hate to see either team lose if you don't have a partisan affiliation. MSU had two harmless errors, although their last one could have been costly as it put a runner on third with 2 outs in the 9th. But overall, this was a cleanly played game, and even the errors were cases of very difficult plays that the players couldn't quite pull off.
Congratulations to the Bulldogs, who will face the Florida Gators or Vanderbilt Commodores tomorrow in the SEC Tournament final. The Wildcats will go home, lick their wounds, and get ready for the big one.