'Cats lose a tough one to Florida, 6-4

The 23rd ranked Kentucky Wildcats opened their three game series with the defending SEC Champion Florida Gators in dramatic fashion. Shaun Lehmann smashed a single up the middle to give Kentucky the 7-8 walk-off win in game one, which was resumed on Saturday afternoon after thunderstorms caused officials to suspend play on Friday.

But the Bat Cats were unable to carry that momentum into Saturday's night cap, as they dropped game two to the Gators 6-4 at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Florida jumped all over Kentucky starter Craig Snipp. Florida belted three home runs, including two from catcher Brian Jeroloman, and scored six runs in the first two innings of the ball game.

"Snippy just didn't have the ball moving for him in the beginning," Kentucky catcher Sean Coughlin said, "so I tried to calm him down a little bit and give him a couple pitches he could work off of."

Whatever Coughlin's advice to Snipp was, it worked. After giving up six runs in the first two innings, the Wildcat starter would stay on the mound and complete the game without yielding another run. Snipp retired 21 out of the last 25 batters he faced while striking out seven Gator batters on the night and walking only one. His efforts allowed the Bat Cats to chip away at Florida's lead and get back into the ball game.

Kentucky got two runs back when Sean Coughlin blasted a two-run homer in the bottom of the second. The homer was Coughlin's seventh of the season, and his first in the last 12 games.

With two men on and two outs in the third inning Coughlin stepped up to bat again. He lifted a high fly ball near the foul line in left field. As Florida's Chris Petrie tracked the pop up down, he slipped and fell allowing the ball to fall safely to the outfield grass. Both runners scored and Coughlin cruised into second with what went in the books as a two-RBI double that cut the Gator lead to 6-4. But that would be as close as the Wildcats would come.

With momentum seemingly shifting in UK's direction, Bryan Augenstein proved why he is one of the best pitchers in the SEC, as he tightened up and slammed the door on the Bat Cat's rally. After the third inning, he pitched six straight scoreless frames against the explosive Wildcat lineup.

Augenstein's stuff was dominant. He tossed the complete game to pick up the win while striking out nine Wildcat batters, overpowering many of them with his fastball, which clocked in the 93-96 MPH range all night. Most impressively, he kept Kentucky from getting big hits with men in scoring position to keep the score in Florida's favor.

Though disappointed that they fell short on Saturday night, the 6-4 loss has not deterred Kentucky's confidence. The Wildcat's like their chances with sophomore Greg Dombrowski taking the mound in Sunday's rubber match, especially if the weather conditions remain like they have been all weekend.

"If the wind continues to blow out like it did tonight, I really like Greg Dombrowski," Kentucky head coach John Cohen said, "because he has tremendous sink. We'll just have to make some plays on the infield."

"I think our kids are genuinely disappointed we didn't come back and seal the deal in this game today," he continued. "I think they'll be focused and I think they'll be ready to play tomorrow."

Individually, Sean Coughlin had a monster night against Augenstein, going 4-4 from the plate with a home run, double and four RBIs. The four hits are the most Coughlin has ever hit in a single game in his college career. After the game he echoed his coach's sentiments about game three.

"I think we are going to come out on top," said Coughlin. "I think we are the kind of team that can bounce back from losses that are close like that. We've got those kinds of players."

Saturday moved Kentucky to 24-8 on the year, 6-5 in the SEC. Florida moved to 20-15 on the season, 4-7 in the SEC.

Game three between the Gators and Wildcats is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium. With a win, Kentucky would claim their third conference series victory of the season. A win would also give Kentucky seven conference wins on the year, which would equal their total from last year.

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