Cats grab share of SEC with 8-3 win

ATHENS - Senior left-hander Craig Snipp pitched a complete game six-hitter with a career high 11 strikeouts to lead seventh-ranked Kentucky to an 8-3 win over 11th-ranked Georgia Friday to clinch at least a share of its first SEC Championship in school history.

Kentucky (42-12, 20-9) snapped Georgia's 13-game winning streak in front of a crowd of 3,241 at Foley Field and clinched the league's Eastern Division title outright. Bulldog head coach David Perno sat out the game, serving a one-game suspension handed down by the SEC for contact with first base umpire Rick Darby after he was ejected during Thursday's contest. Alabama could tie the Wildcats for the SEC crown with wins over Tennessee Friday and Saturday. Georgia (37-17, 17-12 SEC) lost for the first time since April 25th, and it's 13-game winning streak was the longest since the 2001 season.

The Wildcats grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third after three walks and a sacrifice fly by Collin Cogwill (2-for-4, 4 RBI). The Bulldog pitching staff issued nine walks, the second most this season and most since March 2 at Southern California. In the eighth inning, after the seventh walk, Bulldog associate head coach Roger Williams, who handles the pitching staff, came out of the dugout to speak with Darby who was working behind the plate and was promptly ejected.

Georgia took a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Josh Morris singled and then moved around on a wild pitch from Snipp. Jason Jacobs then walked and was followed by designated hitter Matt Olson who singled up the middle driving in a run. Then, with runners at first and second, Wildcat catcher Sean Coughlin attempted to pick off Olson at first but committed a throwing error that allowed Jacobs to score. In the fifth, the Bulldogs went up 3-1 on a RBI double to left from Gordon Beckham. Jonathan Wyatt scored from first on the play after reaching on a single.

Kentucky evened the game at three a piece in the sixth on a two-run homer to center from Coughlin off Bulldog starter Brooks Brown. He did not figure in the decision, leaving after six innings, allowing three runs on two hits with four walks and five strikeouts. With one out in the seventh, Billy Grace was hit by a pitch from freshman Jason Leaver. After Ryan Wilkes reached on a walk, Leaver got Shaun Lehmann to pop out for the second out. Antone DeJesus lined a single to left, scoring Grace on a close play at the plate. Cogwill followed with a three-run home run to give the Wildcats a 7-3 edge. It was his 15th home run of the year. In the ninth, a sacrifice fly by Michael Bertram provided the final margin.

"It was a tall order coming in to have to sweep the SEC leader in Kentucky, and my hat is off to them for getting it done here tonight," said Georgia coach David Perno. "They are playing very good baseball right now and they came in here and won it behind a great outing from Craig Snipp. He's had our number the last few years, and he went the distance again.

"We still have a lot to play for Saturday in terms of winning the series, securing a high seed to the SEC Tournament and putting us in position to host an NCAA Regional. I'd like us to be in the top four going to the tournament and hopefully stick around for a while and that should help us get a chance to host," Perno added.

Snipp improved to 7-3, scattering three runs on six hits with five walks and 11 strikeouts in getting his third complete game of the season. Leaver took the loss to fall to 2-2. He allowed four runs on three hits with three walks and two strikeouts.

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