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Kentucky Baseball: SEC Tournament Preview and Game Thread (Updated)

Kentucky opens the SEC Tournament facing Alabama at 5:30 ET today. A good run through the tournament could net them a regional.


As he does so often, Neil Price nails it:

Times and Expected Starters

5:30 PM ET, subject to change if Texas A&M-Arkansas goes late

Kentucky: LHP A.J. Reed, 10-2, 2.11 ERA, 1.12 WHIP in 98 innings

Alabama: RHP Nick Eicholtz, 3-1, 3.06 ERA, 1.28 WHIP in 50 innings

Previous Meeting March 14-15 in Tuscaloosa, AL

  • Friday: Alabama 3, UK 0
  • Saturday: UK 7, Alabama 2
  • Saturday: Alabama 5, UK 3 (10 innings)

Team Comparison

Record SEC Last 10 R/G RA/G SEC R/G SEC RA/G
Kentucky 32-22 14-16 5-5 8.0 5.2 6.4 5.9
Alabama 34-21 15-14 4-6 5.2 3.7 4.3 4.7

RPI Warren Nolan Ken Massey Boyd's World
Kentucky 22 35 35 30
Alabama 24 40 23 31

These teams are about as evenly matched as you can get.  Alabama took the regular season series 2-1, but the games were played in Tuscaloosa and both teams scored 10 runs, so twas a close series win.  The computer rankings, overall, view these teams as pretty even.  Alabama managed to finish conference play with a winning record despite being outscored while Kentucky finished under .500 despite outscoring their opponents.  So it goes sometimes.

Kentucky clearly has the superior offense while the pitching and defense has been equal with both teams allowing 4.7 runs per game in SEC play.  The Cats have the advantage on the mound with A.J. Reed.  Despite being the lower seed, Kentucky should be favored to win this game and advance to the double-elimination round against Florida tomorrow.

What's At Stake

This is a single elimination game.  The winner will advance to face Florida tomorrow in the double elimination phase of the tournament.

Team Speed Kills pretty much nailed this in their tournament preview.  Kentucky is in the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens today, most likely as a 2 or 3 seed.  There is very little difference between those two spots thanks to the way the "home team" designation works in Regionals so losing to Alabama will not hurt at all. In fact, there is arguably some upside if Kentucky were to lose because it would allow them to rest their pitching staff and set the starters.  The bullpen has thrown a lot of innings in the last couple weeks so this is not an insignificant factor.

On the other hand, with an RPI of 22 and a lot of good wins, the Cats are not far away from hosting a regional.  To do so they will need to make a strong run through the tournament, but if they were to make the championship game it would be very difficult for the committee to not award them a regional.  Unfortunately, Gary Henderson was not able to optimize his pitching to make that kind of run.  A.J. Reed is the best starter, but he will be used against the weakest team UK is likely to face, leaving lesser starters for the rest of the tournament.  Given that, it is highly unlikely that they will be able to win enough games to host the regional.

UPDATE 5/21: Game 2 vs Florida

Times and Expected Starters

5:30 PM ET

Kentucky: RHP Kyle Cody, 3-0, 2.53 ERA, 1.28 WHIP in 30 innings

Florida: RHP Logan Shore, 7-2, 1.69 ERA, 1.01 WHIP in 85 innings

Previous Meeting April 4-6 in Lexington, KY

  • Friday:UK 17, Florida 1
  • Saturday: Florida 11, UK 10
  • Sunday: UK 9, Florida 8

Team Comparison

Record SEC Last 10 R/G RA/G SEC R/G SEC RA/G
Kentucky 33-22 14-16 5-5 7.9 5.1 6.5 5.8
Florida 37-19 21-9 6-4 4.7 3.9 5.0 4.5

RPI Warren Nolan Ken Massey Boyd's World

Kentucky 22 34 35 27

Florida 2 26 15 13

Kentucky took 2 out of 3 from Florida during the regular season.  However, the one game they did lose was started by tonight's starter, Logan Shore.  Shore dominated the Cats over 7 shutout innings, allowing only 7 base runners and striking out 3.

The winner of this game will face the winner of South Carolina - Mississippi St. in the final game Thursday night while the loser of this game faces the USC-MSST loser in the 2nd game Thursday afternoon.

This will serve as the game thread for the tournament.