Austin Cousino's walk-off single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted No. 8 Kenutcky to a 4-3 win over No. 14 Mississippi State on Saturday in the second game of a doubleheader sweep at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (18-5, 4-2 SEC) won the first game of the doubleheader 3-2 as starter Jerad Grundy struck out 10 Bulldogs over eight innings of work.
Cousino, the preseason SEC Player of the Year and All-America selection, had been in a 1-for-16 slump prior to his clutch hit in the series-clincher. The Ohio native lined a hard-hit single off the first base bag against MSU closer Jonathan Holder, scoring Kyle Barrett from third. Barrett had started the rally with a double.
"Just get the guy in," Cousino said of his mindset in the ninth-inning at-bat. "I wasn't trying to do too much. I just really wiped away what happened early in the game. I knew that if I could get up, I could get him in."
"Austin's a really good player, good players rise to the moment most of the time," UK head coach Gary Henderson said.
Junior Corey Littrell started the second game for UK, allowing only two hits and one earned run while walking six and striking out four. It marked the 10th rubber-match outing for Littrell in the last two years with the left-hander holding a 7-0 record and a 1.85 ERA. The Wildcats have won all 10 of the games.
"He certainly wasn't as sharp, but … his maturity continues to get better and better. I thought he competed really well," Henderson said of Littrell.
Senior Walter Wijas (2-0) took over in the eighth inning, working the final two shutout innings for the win, allowing two singles and striking out three.
The dynamic MSU pitching staff limited the Wildcats to just three hits in the game, as the two clubs combined for seven hits. Cousino, Barrett and Max Kuhn each got hits for UK, with J.T. Riddle and A.J. Reed drawing two walks each. The Cats coaxed eight walks in the game.
In the opener, Grundy "was outstanding," Henderson said. "I'm really, really happy for Jerad, happy for our club. That effort today was about as good as you see in college baseball."
UK collected nine hits in the game and drew three walks, with Reed, Zac Zellers and Max Kuhn each recording two-hit games. Reed also belted his sixth homer of the year, a two-run blast in the first inning, with Kuhn and Zellers each singling twice. UK also got hits from J.T. Riddle, Kyle Barrett and Matt Reida.
Mississippi State (21-6, 2-4 SEC) starter Evan Mitchell did not record an out in the first inning, allowing three runs to score on three walks and a hit batter. The Bulldogs went deep into the bullpen before Chad Girodo (2-1) took the hard-luck loss.
Kentucky returns to action on Tuesday against Marshall at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET.
Cats take doubleheader from MSU, win series
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