By: Tyler Spanyer
The No.3 UK baseball team rode sophomore starting pitcher Corey Littrell’s left arm to a 2-1 win against the No. 5 ranked Gators at Cliff Hagan Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Littrell described his performance as, “The longest pitching experience of my life.” Littrell threw eight scoreless innings before allowing a lead-off home run in the ninth, allowing nine hits and striking out five on his way to his seventh win of the season.
The win gives the Cats a 15-9 record in conference play, and with South Carolina’s loss on Saturday that puts them only a half-game behind the Gamecocks for first in the SEC East.
“All 11 teams in this conference have gone through a slump, we just hope this is the end of ours so we can gain some momentum heading into the postseason,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said when asked about the Cats’ recent slump.
The game was a pitching battle from the start with both hurlers keeping the game scoreless until the bottom of the fifth. That’s when UK sophomore shortstop Matt Reida drove an single up the middle to bring in Michael Williams, breaking the scoreless tie.
It wasn’t until the eighth inning that the Cats gained their insurance run coming off a couple of errors and some hustle by freshman outfielder Austin Cousino. “The insurance run created a small margin of error, and little more comfort for our guys,” Henderson said. “If we didn’t score that run I don’t send Corey back out there.”
Following the lead-off home run in the ninth, Littrell was replaced by sophomore reliever Trevor Gott. Gott earned the save, which set the record for most saves in a single season (9) by a UK pitcher. “It’s an honor to be among the UK record books,” Gott said, “Honestly I didn’t even know I was close to the record.”
The Cats will next be in action Wednesday as they travel to Bloomington to face the Hoosiers, and return to Lexington next weekend for a three game series against Alabama.