Cats rally, take key series from Auburn

Fighting for one of the final spots in the upcoming SEC Tournament, Kentucky rallied from a 5-0 deficit Sunday to defeat Auburn 6-5 and clinch the series on Ka'ai Tom's 10th-inning single.

Fighting for one of the final spots in the upcoming SEC Tournament, Kentucky rallied from a 5-0 deficit Sunday to defeat Auburn 6-5 and clinch the series on Ka'ai Tom's 10th-inning single.

The win kept the Wildcats two games ahead of the Tigers, who are also seeking a spot in the league tourney. Kentucky (30-20, 12-15 SEC) travels to Georgia for its final series of the regular season with the Bulldogs also trying to work their way into the postseason, so every win is crucial at this juncture.

"To be able to be down five going into the bottom of the sixth, we come back and chip away and then leave some base runners on there in the seventh, I believe it was," UK head coach Gary Henderson said. "That showed some real resilience from our kids. Really proud of them."

Kentucky got a lead-off single from JaVon Shelby to start the winning 10th. A sacrifice bunt by Austin Cousino, who had tied the game in the eighth with a solo home run, advanced Shelby to second.

Auburn's Ryan Tella got Max Kuhn to fly out before intentionally walking UK star A.J. Reed to bring Ka'ai Tom to the plate with two outs. The Hawaii native delivered with a single through the right side of the infield to score Shelby and cap the Cats' thrilling comeback.

Cousino had two hits and drove in two runs to lead UK. Thomas Bernal also had two hits for the Cats. Reed, the leading contender for national player of the year, was walked four times by Auburn, which led 5-0 in the sixth inning before UK mounted its comeback.

Spencer Jack (3-1) picked up the win in relief, holding the Tigers scoreless over the final two innings. UK used six pitchers on the day, including starter Dylan Dwyer, who surrendered four runs before being pulled after two innings of work.

Tella (0-1) took the loss for Auburn (27-25, 10-17 SEC) but he had gotten his team out of some major jams late in the game, including a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the seventh in which he struck out the next three batters. It was only the second pitching appearance of the season for the Tigers' regular starting centerfielder.

Auburn starter Keegan Thompson – the preseason Baseball America SEC Freshman of the Year – tossed five shutout innings, allowing just three hits and three walks, striking out seven.

Kentucky clinched a third-consecuitve 30-win season for the first time since doing it four years in a row from 1991-94.




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