Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood

After spending the last four years studying mechanical engineering, senior pitcher Matt Robinson has learned how to take care of business in the classroom.

It is becoming obvious that, after opening the season with a pair of rocky starts, he has learned how to take care of business on the mound as well.

With starter Aaron Tennyson fighting to find the strike zone on Friday night, Robinson, who has made the transition from struggling starter to dominant reliever this season, took the hill in the fifth inning against the 17th ranked Ole Miss Rebels.

Robinson stifled the hard-hitting Rebel lineup for the final four and one-third innings to lead Kentucky to an 8-3 series-opening win, propelling them into soul possession of first place in the SEC Eastern Division.

In fact, Robinson is a major reason why the Batcats have been so successful in conference play this year. Since moving to the bullpen, he had built a 3-1 record in 14 appearances with just a 1.80 ERA.

On Friday Robinson picked up his fourth win after allowing just three hits and one run against an Ole Miss lineup that had smashed at least 13 hits in nine of its last 11 games. But despite his recent achievements, Matt has remained humble.

"It's just good to go out there and be able to come into a game and compete," Robinson said after the win. "Ole Miss is a good team, and I was just happy to get an opportunity."

"Baseball is a game, so you know you're going to have ups and downs," Robinson continued. "You have just got to be able to come out every day and make sure you are getting better, whether it's the first day of the season or the last day of the season. You've got to try to get better everyday, and that is what I have been working on and slowly I've been improving throughout the course of the year."

After allowing Ole Miss to score in the first inning, Collin Cowgill answered in the bottom half by belting his 12th home run of the year, tying the game at 1-1.

In the second inning John Shelby hit a solo home run that was subsequently followed by a three-run blast from Antone DeJesus to open up a 5-1 Wildcat lead.

With a 5-2 advantage in the fifth and his starter not attacking the strike zone, head coach John Cohen decided to go to Matt Robinson early out of the bullpen. The move paid off, as Robinson came in and controlled the game from his first pitch on. He allowed just one run and three hits while striking out five Ole Miss batters, all without issuing a walk.

"You have to be confident," Robinson said about facing Ole Miss's lineup. "You have to go out there and know you are the best. Some days you're up and some days you're down, but no matter what you have to have confidence. It doesn't matter if you are facing the best team in the world or the worst team. You have to go out and attack every hitter the same way."

Kentucky added three more runs with Robinson on the hill, but they would not be needed as the Cats cruised through the final four innings to take the 8-3 victory and the first game of the series.

After the game, Cohen acknowledged the progress that Robinson has made this season, especially on transitioning to the bullpen.

"[Pitching Coach] Gary Henderson has done a wonderful job with him," Cohen said. "He has really tightened up his breaking ball, and I really think he has the mentality of a young man who wants to be a reliever. He's the kind of guy that gets excited about coming into the middle of a game and in the end of a game and getting people out."

"I just think that is his role, and I think before we used him too much as a starter because we had too earlier in his career. I think this is his niche. He's very excited about this role, and of course, we are too."

Game two of the three game series is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The 11th ranked Wildcats are looking to win their sixth series of the year as they send senior starter Craig Snipp (4-3, 3.39) against Ole Miss's Brett Bukvich (4-3, 2.50)


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