Mid-week Losses a Common Theme in SEC

Don't expect UK Baseball coach John Cohen to be considerably negative following Wednesdays 10-9 loss to Cincinnati. Despite the fact the loss dropped UK to 6-2 on the young season, Cohen understands that in order to get better, the mid-week competition has to allow guys to play.

"These things happen," Cohen explained. "All you have to do is go to SEC.com and see for yourself. Florida loses a midweek game to Mercer and drops two of three over the weekend to Missouri and Wake Forest. Auburn dropped two of three to Elon last week. These things happen in college baseball."

The third-year head coach, whose Wildcats are expected to make a big splash nationally this year eyeing the school's first postseason appearence in over 10 years, believes the growing pains are more important long-term for a relatively inexperienced group.

"You need the midweek game to allow some players to play and get some looks and see what he can do," Cohen explained. "Especially for us, we need to see what some of these young pitchers can do. Some guys will get starts because we need to see where they are, so we can be ready for SEC play. Unfortunately, you take a chance at losing the mid-week game when you experiment like that."

Playing against lesser opponents on unequal ground, more times than not, leaves SEC squads like Kentucky in a struggle.

"Whenever these teams come in to play in Lexington their game elevates to another level," Cohen said. "Most of the guys your hitting against maybe were passed over by some of the SEC teams and so they elevate their game. You could have a pitcher that throws in the high 80's, that when he's facing us is throwing 93 or 94. It's just apart of it."

In the end, the most important part of the season is league play, where a top eight finish all but assures you an invitation to the NCAA regional - the ultimate dance for a Wildcat squad hungry for a the opportunity.

"We have to play (mid-week games) and see where we are with some kids and get our offense going," Cohen added. "Wins are important, there is no doubting that, but the most important thing in the early going is getting ourselves where we need to be by the SEC regular season."

"Only the top eight finishers make the SEC Tournament, but the past two years, we've had nine teams invited to the NCAA Tournament from our league, which is really unreal when you look at it," Cohen reinterated. "To have one team not make it's league tournament, but make the NCAA's is a testament to how hard our league is. That's why we have to have our pitching staff set and our team where we need to be offensively."

The 16-game homestand should help Cohen accomplish his pre-season education. Wednesday, the 'Cats against Cincinnati committed a number of base-running errors that contributed to the loss.

With runners on the corners and one out in the first, a wild pitch sent Sean Coughlin to second and prompted DeJesus to break for home. Trying to turn back to third, he fell down and was caught in a run down. Coughlin ventured too far off second on the play and was picked for an unconventional 2-5-4-6 double play.

"We had runners on first and third with one out," Cohen aided. "We had one of the best hitters in the SEC at the plate and then all of a sudden we had three outs."

Ryan Strieby and John Shelby were each thrown out at third base in the third inning. Strieby went down first trying to advance on a wild pitch. Shelby stole second and then was gunned down trying to steal third two pitches later.

"I'm still kind of wondering how that happened," Cohen said. "But it happens early in the year and you have to move on and fix it."

Kentucky takes on Northwestern in what should be a challenging three-game set starting on Friday.

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