(UK Athletics, Chet White)
Kentucky baseball is fresh off a win against No. 9 Louisville on Tuesday which turned out to be an extra-inning thriller with the Cats winning 5-4 in front of a record-breaking crowd at Jim Patterson Stadium. Thanks to a Cardinals error and a little small ball, UK scored an unearned run on a Kyle Barrett sac-fly in the top of the 10th. That was all they needed with Trevor Gott coming in the bottom half to slam the door, three-up three-down. Louisville will make a trip to Lexington on April 16.
That’s not the only thing to be excited about: Kentucky is a winner of its first three Southeastern Conference series of the season with two victories apiece against Florida, Mississippi State, and Georgia. UK is ranked 7th in the country and improved to 22-6 on the season and 6-3 in conference. The Cats will head to Baton Rouge for a tough road test at No. 2 LSU this weekend where the Tigers have only lost one game so far this season.
The last time these two teams met they were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the country in what turned out to be an epic series at Cliff Hagan Stadium. LSU won the series opener on a chilly late-April night, but the Cats stormed back in games two and three to win the series over the best team in baseball.
Fast forward to this season and not much has changed between the two teams, which is part of the reason both have remained competitive nationally. The offense and pitching staff on both teams have remained intact.
The Wildcats will be sending out the usual weekend rotation of A.J. Reed (2-3, 2.57 ERA), Jerad Grundy (5-2, 2.15 ERA), and Corey Littrell (4-0, 2.17 ERA) and hope to utilize Gott (4-0, 1.06 ERA), the ace in the pen. He is sporting seven saves on the season with 20 strikeouts in just 17 innings.
The Cats offense is being led by second baseman J.T. Riddle (.352 average), Reed (.333 average), and centerfielder Austin Cousino (.309 average). Collectively, the Wildcats are chugging at a .286 average with a solid .397 on-base and .408 slugging percentage.
The LSU Tigers are one of the most dominate teams in college baseball with a powerful lineup from top to bottom, with a few stud freshmen sprinkled in, and a lights-out pitching staff, the Tigers (27-2, 8-1 SEC) are off to their best start to a season in 26 years. The LSU offense is batting an SEC-leading .308 average, slugging .450, and reaching base at a mark of .402 percent.
On the hill for LSU will be sophomore righty Aaron Nola (4-0, 2.74 ERA) on Friday and junior righty Ryan Eades (6-0, 1.35 ERA) on Saturday. Both pitchers the Cats knocked around in Lexington during the last series en route to their two wins. Sunday’s starter has yet to be announced.
First pitch is tonight at 8 o’clock, followed by a Saturday tilt at 7:30, and Sunday at 1 o’clock. The Friday and Saturday games will be televised on Cox Sports Television and the Sunday game will be available on Comcast Sports Southeast and online on ESPN3.com.