Gators oust Cats

Kentucky's run in the SEC Tournament came to an end Saturday as Florida battled back from a three-run deficit to beat the Wildcats 6-5 in the semifinals at Hoover (Ala.) Metropolitan Stadium.

The top-seeded Gators got two hits, two runs scored and the game-winning RBI from third baseman Josh Tobias out of the nine hole in the order to advance to Sunday's championship game against LSU. The Tigers beat Arkansas 11-1 earlier Saturday to work their way into the title game.

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Kentucky led 3-0 after two innings and went back ahead 5-4 after the sixth, but eventually ran out of pitching and defense down the stretch.

Florida scored the tying run in the seventh inning on a miscommunication between UK shortstop Matt Reida and second baseman JaVon Shelby on a fieldable ball up the middle, and the Gators plated the eventual winning run in the eighth after an error by the Cats' Max Kuhn at third base.

Florida (40-20) did the little things it managed to do all season in posting an improbable SEC regular season championship. The Gators got five hits, two walks and four runs scored by the bottom three hitters in their batting order and some terrific relief pitching from Kirby Snead and Eric Hanhold after starter Brett Morales was chased with one out in the second inning.

Snead worked 4.1 innings, allowing no earned runs. The left-hander held the SEC's top offensive club to just three hits and two walks. Hanhold (4-3) worked the final 3.1 innings, allowing no runs, just two hits and striking out four. His biggest moment came in the eighth inning, fanning UK's Austin Cousino and Max Kuhn looking on breaking balls with the tying run at second .

The Cats, whose pitching staff had been stretched thin by winning three games to reach the semifinals, used freshman Logan Salow in his first career start. He gave up two earned runs on three hits, a walk and a hit batter over 2.1 innings. Taylor Martin came out of the pen and pitched two strong innings before a pair of walks cost him two runs in the fifth.

Andrew Nelson and Chandler Shepherd pitched the final 4.1 innings. Nelson allowed one earned run on five hits, while Shepherd (5-4) took the loss after giving up one earned run on a walk and four hits, including Tobias' game-winner with two outs in the eighth.

Three of the four Gators who drew walks came around to score runs.

Kentucky (35-23) did not get a big offensive performance from expected national player of the year A.J. Reed. The Gators held the junior first baseman to just a walk and hit by pitch while going 0-for-3.

Kuhn had a pair of doubles and two RBI to lead UK at the plate. Ka'ai Tom also had two hits and drove in a run.

Kentucky took three of five games from Florida this season, including a 4-2 win on Wednesday in the double-elimination bracket. UK outscored the Gators 45-28 on the season, but fell two runs short of advancing to the title game.

The Cats will now await their NCAA Tournament seeding. The field will be announced on Monday at Noon on ESPNU. Perfect Game projects UK as a 2 or 3 seed in the Bloomington/Indiana regional.

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