Cats avoid sweep, but season scares continue


Junior infielder Javon Shelby (5) hits the ball during the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won the game 8-4. Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Staff

Chris Angolia

UK baseball dropped two of its three games this weekend in a road series at Auburn marking the Cats’ third straight series loss.

In game one, the Tigers used a three-run fourth inning to put them over the edge against Cats starter Zack Brown as they went on to take game one 5-2.

Although Brown has lost three consecutive starts, Friday’s game marked the first time he had really been hit hard since early April. The Tigers were able to put together 12 hits over six innings against Brown resulting in all five of the team’s runs.

Game two was perhaps the worst UK has looked all year.

After jumping out to a 5-0 lead through two innings, the struggles on the mound began. Dustin Beggs had his worst career start allowing six runs over seven innings of work and when Beggs was removed before the start of the eighth, the game was tied 6-6.

Beggs was not the only UK pitcher that struggled Saturday as the bullpen imploded in the eighth allowing four runs and giving the Tigers a 10-6 victory and the series.

With the loss in games one and two, game three became a must win because getting swept by Auburn, which sits at the bottom of the SEC, does not look good on a tournament resume, especially this late in the season.

The Cats turned to their senior Kyle Cody to avoid the sweep, and Cody turned out a clutch performance going 7.1 innings allowing two earned runs on seven hits while adding six strikeouts.

In a tie game heading to the fifth, UK was able to put together eight runs over the next three innings and grab a 9-1 lead. The Tigers would add five more runs, but they would come up short and the Cats were able to avoid the sweep, winning game three 9-6.

Regardless of the game three victory, UK did not play its best baseball this past weekend, and it has become clear that the team is reeling and an inopportune time. The Cats now sit in fourth place in the SEC East and seventh overall in the conference after being in the top four just a few weeks ago.

It seems as if when things have the possibility of going wrong for the Cats, they do. This has hurt the team and brought them back toward the NCAA Tournament bubble with three series left.

One positive that can be taken from the weekend is JaVon Shelby, who has been slumping mightily, but may have woken up.

Shelby went 3-5 on Saturday with a pair of doubles and 2 RBI and on Sunday went 2-4 with two homers and four RBI. If Shelby can build off of Saturday’s and Sunday’s performances, it will be huge for the Cats going forward, especially in this time of need.

UK, now 27-17, will go for its second straight win Tuesday against 20-25 Eastern Kentucky at 6:30 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium.