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3 Things to Know From Kentucky Baseball’s Double Disappointment

A rough stretch in Hoover may cost UK a national seed in the NCAA Tournament.

UK Athletics

After blowing out South Carolina in their SEC Tournament opener, the No. 3 seed Bat Cats dropped their next two games in Hoover, Alabama to return to the Bluegrass without any hardware.

Alex Lange Pasted Kentucky

In the Wildcats and Tigers prior meetings in Lexington, Kentucky pounded the cover off the ball. The Cats scored over ten runs twice in the series and had 38 total hits as a team. They managed half a dozen against LSU but weren't able to overcome LSU starter, Alex Lange.

Lange (8-5) tossed seven shutout innings in the run-shortened game. Besides the six hits, Lange did not put a runner on base due to walks and struck out seven hitters on the most explosive batting lineup in the Southeastern Conference.

Kentucky ace Sean Hjelle (9-3) pitched one of his worst games of the season. The Tigers hung five runs on Hjelle in the third inning and repeated their feat in the fifth as well. Hjelle gave nine errand runs overall on 11 hits. However, he did manage to K ten Tiger batters to add a somewhat triumphant note to a somber outing for Nick Mingione's team.

A Late Inning Homer Ruined the Cats' Hopes of Advancing

Kentucky carried a slim 1-0 lead against South Carolina for much of their Friday night showdown in Hoover courtesy of Luke Becker's RBI groundout in the first inning.

UK pitcher Justin Lewis threw 5.1 magnificent innings for Kentucky. He gave up only one hit, walked none, and struck out six. At one point Lewis retired eight straight Gamecock hitters. Unfortunately, a high pitch count sent Lewis to the showers early, handing the game over to the bullpen.

The normally solid Logan Salow (2-5) got through his first inning unscathed but fell victim to a walk and a throwing error in the seventh. Then pinch hitter TJ Hopkins cleared the bases with a shot to left field. Hopkins shot was one of only two South Carolina hits on the night.

However, Kentucky did not do themselves any favors, though, by leaving nine runners stranded in scoring position.

Kentucky Is Still In the Hunt For A Seed

Despite Kentucky's excellent record against both the top ten and top twenty-five, late season series losses to Georgia and Florida, as well as the defeat to LSU in the conference tournament, make the Wildcats hopes of getting a top eight national seed a longshot. That will potentially keep them from hosting a Super Regional for the first time in school history.

The Wildcats 39-20 against such a demanding schedule will certainly reward them with a seed and the right to host a regional at Cliff Hagan Stadium, where Kentucky has been borderline impossible to beat all season. The Cats might also luck into a high enough seed to avoid a showdown with archrival Louisville or conference foe Florida in the Super Regional round if they advance.