UK baseball falls out of first place with SEC series loss

Pitcher Logan Salow of the Kentucky Wildcats delivers a pitch during the game against the Buffalo Bulls at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington, Ky. on Sunday, March 6, 2016. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff.

Charlee Schaefer

For the first time this season, No. 4 UK baseball lost a weekend series at home, after a 6-3 loss to Georgia in the rubber game on Sunday afternoon. 

The Cats went into the weekend series with a 14-7 SEC record, and hoped to maintain their No. 1 position and the best record in the SEC East. However, Georgia (now 7-17 in SEC play) came out on top with a huge series win. 

In the first game of the series UK tried to rally in the bottom of the ninth after a strong outing by Sean Hjelle, but still fell short to Georgia. 

In game two of the series on Saturday, the Cats evened the series behind a stellar performance from Zach Logue, who pitched 6.2 innings and recorded 11 strikeouts, his career high. 

Commenting on his adjustments that he believed to have majorly contributed to his win, Logue said, “Earlier this week, me and coach (Jim) Belanger made a little bit of a mechanical adjustment to help me drive the ball down in the zone and I think I did a really good job with that today, especially early on, I was getting the ball down and mixing all three of my pitches and throwing them for strikes, so that really helped me a lot.” 

In Sunday’s rubber matchup, the Cats’ fantastic starting pitching continued as Justin Lewis, the sophomore right-hander, pitched seven innings and allowed only one earned run, a home run by Georgia’s second baseman, LJ Talley. 

Although Georgia took the early lead, UK came back in the 3rd inning with back-to-back two-out doubles from Evan White and Zach Reks, which tied the game at 1-1. Riley Mahan hit his second home run of the weekend in the bottom of the 7th to give the Cats a one run lead.

In the top of the 8th, the Bulldogs added four runs to their total off a RBI double and a grand slam, after Logan Salow replaced Lewis. 

UK attempted a comeback in the bottom of the 9th after Luke Becker scored on a RBI single from Tyler Marshall, but the Cats could not get any closer after that, as they hit into a double play to end the game. 

Lewis called Salow the “best closer in the country” and said that he was completely comfortable passing the ball off after throwing over 100 pitches, but when commenting on the final score, Lewis said, “It was just one of those games. He’ll get the ball next time. I’m not worried about it at all.”

All in all, the starting pitchers did really well this weekend, but unfortunately the bullpen did not come through as expected. The Cats have now fallen out of first place in the SEC to the Florida Gators and will have to win most, if not all of the remainder of their games to achieve their goals in postseason play.

“The work starts tomorrow,” Salow said.