Auburn completes sweep of Cats

You couldn’t ask for a better day for baseball as the UK baseball team took on the Auburn Tigers on Sunday afternoon in the finale of their three-game weekend series.

After dropping the first two games of the series to the Tigers, the Cats couldn’t salvage a win on getaway day, losing by a score of 8-2, giving Auburn the series sweep.

After scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning to take a 2-0 lead, UK’s offense failed to get on the scoreboard the rest of the afternoon. Taylor Rodgers, the Cats’ starting pitcher, managed to keep UK (16-17, 2-10 SEC) in the game for most of the afternoon, exiting the game with two outs in the seventh inning, with the game tied at two runs apiece.

“I didn’t really want to come out of the game, but that’s not my choice,” Rodgers said. “I felt really good today. I’ve been working on some stuff throughout the week, and it paid off today.”

But once Rodgers exited the game, the script changed dramatically for UK’s bullpen.

UK head coach Gary Henderson brought Trevor Gott in to relieve Rodgers and close out the seventh inning after a tie at first base, which would have represented the final out of the inning, was awarded to the Auburn base runner rather than UK’s defense.

“Clearly the guy is out,” Henderson said of the play after the game, “but beyond that break, which would have put a ‘0’ on the board, we have to field the next ground ball.”

Unfortunately, the Cats were not able to field the next ground ball, as the game got out of hand quickly. Gott allowed four runs before recording the final out of the seventh inning, two of which were credited to Rodgers, who took the loss.

This weekend, the bullpen allowed 19 runs to Auburn in eight innings of action, six of which were allowed in the final two and one-third innings of Sunday’s game. The defense certainly did not help the bullpen, recording four errors on the afternoon, three of which were recorded in the eighth inning.

“I wouldn’t blame it on the bullpen today,” Henderson said. “We obviously drifted mentally there in the seventh inning defensively, and the game got away from us.”

After the sweep by Auburn, the Cats extended their conference losing streak to nine games in a row. The streak includes sweeps at the hands of Alabama, South Carolina and now Auburn. With a game at rival Louisville on Tuesday, and a three-game series at Ole Miss to follow, UK will need to find a way out of its funk if they want any chance at postseason play.

“I think all we have to do is stay positive,” Rodgers said.

“I think (Tuesday’s game at Louisville) will be kind of like a stepping stone. If we can win that and just kind of roll on out for the rest of the season, we should be good; especially with the in-state rivalry we have.”