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Staff report | @KyKernelSports
Needing wins to improve on its postseason standing, UK baseball lost the first two games at Missouri in its final series of the regular season before taking the series finale on Saturday at Taylor Stadium in Columbia, Mo.
Junior left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell threw seven innings in the final game of the series, allowing a run on six hits while striking out seven.
Littrell was given the lead by a UK offense that collected 13 hits. An RBI-single by senior catcher Micheal Thomas in the sixth inning gave the Cats a 2-1 lead. Freshman designated hitter Zack Storm provided the final cushion with a three-run home run in the ninth inning as the Cats went on to claim the 5-1 victory.
Junior second baseman J.T. Riddle had three hits, and senior outfielder Zac Zellers, sophomore infielder Paul McConkey and Thomas all had two hits.
Missouri (18-31, 10-20 SEC) took the first game of the series on Thursday, 4-2, due in part to chasing sophomore left-handed pitcher A.J. Reed with one out in the fifth inning.
Reed allowed four runs on nine hits and two walks while not recording a strikeout.
Four runs provided the cushion the Tigers needed, as three Missouri pitches limited the UK lineup to five hits and two runs.
Friday, Missouri earned a 4-3 comeback victory with runs in the sixth and eighth innings.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Kyle Cody went 5.1 innings, allowing three runs on three hits and four walks.
Missouri junior first baseman Keaton Steele broke a 3-3 tie with a lead-off home run in the eighth inning. Steele picked up his second save, throwing a scoreless ninth inning.
The Cats led 3-1 in the sixth before Cody was chased and the bases were loaded for the Tigers. Missouri junior infielder Shane Segovia lined a two-RBI single into centerfield to tie the game at 3.
UK’s lineup produced five hits in the second game in a performance similar to Thursday’s game.
Freshman outfielder Kyle Barrett snapped a 17-game hitting streak with a 0-for-3 game on Friday while senior shortstop Matt Reida pushed his hitting streak to 10 games with hits in all three games.
The Cats (30-24, 11-19 SEC) clinched a spot in the 12-team SEC Tournament with a Tennessee loss to Texas A&M on Thursday and will be the No. 11 seed.
UK will face No. 6 seed Ole Miss in a single-elimination first round matchup at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday in Hoover, Ala.
The Cats’ first-round, SEC Tournament game against Ole Miss will be televised live on Fox Sports South.