HOOVER, Ala. — The Kentucky baseball team left 14 runners on base and made several uncharacteristic defensive miscues that ultimately led to a 4-1 defeat to Florida in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
The defeat dropped the Wildcats to 29-23 on the season and, barring an unlikely at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, ended their season.
True to form this season, the Cats didn’t go down without a fight. They had traffic on the bases all day, out-hit the Gators 11-5 and put themselves in position to score the upset and extend their season, but the timely hit never came. It started early when Austin Schultz was hit by a pitch to open the game and T.J. Collett followed with a booming down to right field. Indicative of what was to come, Collett’s ball took a big bounce, clipped the top of the fence and bounded into the Florida bullpen, forcing Schultz to stop at third. The Cats never were able to push him across.
Ultimately, the Cats went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, the lone RBI coming on a line drive double into the left field corner by sophomore John Rhodes. For his part, Rhodes collected his first three-hit game of the season and was hit by a pitch for the 18th time this season.
Defensively, Florida managed to plate three unearned runs after Jacob Young’s leadoff home run. A dropped foul ball in the first inning led to a two-out run and a throwing error on what should have been a routine double play opened the door for two more runs in the fifth after the Cats had closed the gap to 2-1.
UK’s pitchers were mostly excellent with starter Sean Harney allowing four hits and one earned run in 4.1 innings. Senior Daniel Harper relieved him and pitched three scoreless innings in what is likely his final collegiate game.