Cats drop game two to Gators 5-1

The No. 3 UK baseball team fell to the No. 5 Florida Gators for the second night in a row by a score of 5-1 at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington. The Cats stranded 10 base runners in the first six innings of the game and failed to get a hit in the final three, wasting what head coach Gary Henderson called Jerad Grundy’s best start of the year on the mound.

Grundy pitched seven and a third innings, allowing just six hits and two earned runs, but that was all the offense the Gators would need.

“It was probably my best outing of the year,” Grundy said. “I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the defense, they made an unbelievable amount of plays behind me.”

After exchanging first inning runs, Grundy and Florida starter Karsten Whitson both settled into a groove for much of the game. Karsten last four and two-thirds innings, allowing six hits of his own and just the one first inning run. Steven Rodriguez pitched two perfect innings to close the game and record his second save in as many nights (and his only two saves for the season).

First baseman Luke Maile’s RBI single in the first inning represented UK’s only run on the evening. The Cats had no trouble putting guys aboard, patiently taking walks and choosing their moments to strike base hits. But the Cats stranded a runner in scoring position in five of the first seven innings of the game, failing to take advantage of opportunities the Gators were giving them.

“We missed a bunch of opportunities. We have for about a week now,” Maile said. “If there’s any group of guys that’s going to stick with it, it’s this group. We’re fine, it’s a very small piece of a very big puzzle. We’re just going to try and stay positive.”

Maile said the high number of runners left on base is frustrating, but also shows the team hasn’t been completely shut down offensively. Surely a silver lining and the positive attitude Maile alluded to, but the Cats will need to find some timely hitting if they wish to salvage game three of the weekend series Saturday.

“There’s no magic,” Henderson said. “You just keep showing up, stay as positive as you can, you keep working as hard as you can… You do the absolute basics, that’s all you can do. Stay as positive as you possibly can.”