The BatCats are in Hoover for the week-long SEC tournament. Kentucky (34-21, 13-17) hope to stick around for as much of that week as possible. With a win over Auburn in today’s opening round, UK would move into the double-elimination portion of the tournament. But a loss to Auburn would send UK back to Lexington. Before the game gets going at 2 ET (weather permitting), here is everything you need to know about UK’s opening round matchup.
This Game Could Knock UK Out of the NCAA tournament
How crazy is it that UK is now in this position? A week ago the Cats were working to earn a hosting spot, now they need to win today to feel safe in terms of reaching the tournament. D1 Baseball has UK as one of the last five teams in the tournament playing in the Chapel Hill Regional as a three seed. Baseball America has projected that UK will head to Clemson as a three seed. A win today would solidify a spot in the tournament, but a loss will make the Cats sweat a little before next Monday’s Selection Show.
Kentucky Won Two of Three in the Regular Season Series
It seems like years ago that these two teams squared off in Lexington. The Cats won the series thanks to some late-inning heroics in game one. UK scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to win 5-4 over the Tigers. Casey Mize, the projected #1 pick this year, struck out 12 in seven innings against UK, but his bullpen failed him in the ninth. Luke Heyer tied the game with a two-run homer against AU closer Calvin Coker in the ninth. With one out in the inning, Zeke Lewis scored on a passed ball to give UK the walk-off win. The Cats would win Sunday’s rubber match to take two of three from the Tigers.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) March 24, 2018
Two Freshmen Square Off on the Mound
Nick Mingione will start his freshman midweek starter in the SEC Tournament opener. For more on UK’s starter, click here. The Tigers are going with freshman Jack Owen to start their postseason run. Owen started six midweek games for AU this season, going 2-2 with a 6.14 ERA and 34 strikeouts. Before making the move to the SEC, Owen was the #2 left-handed pitcher in California in the 2017 class. While he has untapped potential, Owen is still very raw. In 32 innings, Owen had a WHIP of 1.68. Of his 13 appearances as a freshman, only three of them came against SEC opponents. Owen allowed four runs in two innings in conference games. Tomorrow will be the first time Owen has pitched on the big stage with a lot on the line.
Auburn’s Top Hitter Was Once Committed To UK
When Brad Bohannon was the recruiting coordinator at UK, he scored a commitment from a shortstop named William Holland. When Bohannon took the assistant coaching job at Auburn in 2015, Holland stayed committed to his coach and switched to AU. In his second season with the Tigers, Holland led the team with a .329 average. He was named second team All-SEC following his breakout season.
Have You Ever Seen The Rain?
If you make the trip to Hoover this week, chances are you will see rain each and every day. The forecasts for the week show good chances for storms throughout the week. The first game of the tournament was already delayed an hour because of showers this morning. It is important to remember that these games HAVE to be played. There is very little room throughout the week for doubleheaders and rain delays. For today, UK will most likely start later in the afternoon.
Every SEC Tournament game will be broadcast on the SEC Network. If you need up to the minute updates, follow @TreyHuntsmanKSR live from Hoover.