(Photos by Regina Lexi Rickert)
The college baseball season came to a close Tuesday night when the UCLA Bruins defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs 8-0 to clinch its first ever College World Series title. The Bruins needed just the first two games in the best-of-three series to knock off the Dawgs, who couldn’t even make it to the finals of the SEC Tournament.
With the season a wrap, it’s time to close the book on the Wildcats disappointing season. Despite the poor results in the W-L column, plenty of good came from elsewhere.
— Kentucky’s bullpen was the best it has ever been. The Wildcats set a new program record with a 2.29 bullpen ERA, blowing past the previous record of 2.97 ERA set in 2012.
— UK went a perfect 25-0 in games when it took a lead into the 8th inning. What’s more, the Cats have won 88 straight games when leading after 8 innings, going back to 2011.
— Kentucky posted an impressive .973 fielding percentage, ranking among the best in the NCAA. The mark was the third-highest in program history, falling just shy of the record .976 set in 2012.
— Freshman outfielder Kyle Barrett was named to the All-SEC freshman team. He paced the Wildcats with a team-leading .349 batting average and .407 on-base percentage.
Then-freshman Austin Cousino led the team in batting last year, and this marks the first time in school history that freshman have led the team in back-to-back seasons.
Barrett was just getting warmed up too… He finished the final three weeks of the season on a 16-game hitting streak — one that will surely be a talking point at the start of next season. It is the longest hitting streak for a Kentucky player since A.J. Reed went 16 games in 2012.
— Freshman right-handed pitcher Kyle Cody became the first UK freshman to start a weekend SEC series since Corey Littrell did it in 2011. He also became the first right-handed weekend starter in the last 106 games.
Cody pitched quality outings against No. 14 Arkansas and No. 1 Vanderbilt.
— Junior closer Trevor Gott is a big reason for the dominating numbers out of the bullpen. He saved 12 games in 2013, owning a 1.20 ERA. Gott finished his UK career with a school-record 23 saves in 27 tries.
In those 23 career saves Gott allowed just 10 hits, one earned run, and recorded 37 strikeouts.
— Southpaw Corey Littrell led the Kentucky weekend rotation with a 3.72 ERA and 77 strikeouts. He collected nine quality starts in 2013 and finished with six wins. He ends his collegiate career with a 21-13 record in 46 games, tossing 261.2 innings and striking out 215 batters.
— Sophomore two-way player A.J. Reed led the team with 60 hits, 13 homers, 52 RBI, and a .519 slugging percentage. He also made 14 starts on the mound as the opening-weekend starter. Entering his final two starts of the season Reed ranked among the SEC leaders with a 2.84 ERA before getting hammered by No. 1 Vanderbilt and Missouri for 14 runs combined, bumping his ERA to 4.04.
Reed’s 13 home runs are the most for a UK player since Sawyer Carroll and Collin Cowgill each hit 19 in 2008, before the NCAA changed the bats to meet the BBCOR standard. Reed was named to the All-SEC first team as a designated hitter.
— Starting centerfielder Austin Cousino played in all 55 games this year, ranking second on the team with a .270 batting average, and a team-leading 21 hits-by-pitch. Cousino’s game is diverse, where he added six homers and 14 stolen bases on the year. Add a Rawling Gold Glove Award for his defensive performance to boot.
— J.T. Riddle made all 55 starts at second base this season, and had started in 121 consecutive games. He finished the season ranked 5th in the SEC with 177 defensive assists and seventh in double plays turned with 44.
— His middle-infielding counterpart, short stop Matt Reida also made all 55 starts, and has started 126 straight going back to 2011. Reida ranked 6th in the SEC with 174 defensive assists, and was a team-leader in sacrifice bunts with nine.