GEORGE: Senior Night Scores Series Win, 3-2

On Saturday night, the Kentucky baseball team honored its nine seniors. But after the first pitch was thrown, it was the junior class who stole the spotlight.

Following the senior night celebrations, juniors John Shelby, Ryan Strieby and Sean Coughlin each smashed solo home runs to help Kentucky nip Mississippi State 3-2 and earn its school record seventh SEC series win of the season.

Though the baseballs continued to fly out of Cliff Hagan Stadium, Kentucky really struggled against Bulldog starter Justin Pigott, who tossed all eight innings for Mississippi State. Aside from the long balls, UK only managed to move two runners into scoring position all game.

"We really didn't do a good job against Pigott," head coach John Cohen said after the game. "He can flat out pitch. He did a great job. What it came down to is we took three pretty good swings and hit three balls out of the ballpark."

"We just couldn't get beneath him," Cohen continued. "We kept hitting big-hop ground balls, which is what he did when we watched his film from his start last Saturday against Florida and he got 25 ground balls."

With the game still scoreless, John Shelby led off the bottom of the second inning with his 15th homer of the year to put the Cats up 1-0.

Mississippi State tied the game in the top of the fourth, but in the bottom half, Ryan Strieby and Sean Coughlin hit back-to-back home runs for the second consecutive night, pushing UK ahead again 3-1. But that would end the Batcats' scoring for the evening.

With their run support slim, Kentucky showed that they don't always have to rely on their offense to win games for them. Senior pitcher Craig Snipp and reliever Andrew Albers combined to hold Mississippi State to just two runs on eight hits, and to ensure that those three solo home runs would be enough for the win.

"We really pitched it well," Cohen said. "Snipper and Albers gave us the chance to win this game."

Snipp threw seven and one-third strong innings, allowing just two runs off of seven hits while picking up his sixth win of the year. Senior third baseman and team leader Michael Bertram recognized the importance of Snipp's performance in anchoring Saturday's victory.

"Snipp, week in and week out, he just dominates," Bertram said. "He just finds a way to get guys out and get the job done. He just does a great job, just like all our other starting pitchers. But Snipp, being a senior on senior day, I think he was really pleased to come out with a performance like this."

Andrew Albers relieved Snipp with one out in the eighth and retired five out of the seven batters he face to pick up his fifth save of the year.

With every win, this year's Batcat squad continues to etch its name in UK's record books. Kentucky improves to 39-11 (18-8 in the SEC).

The Wildcat's 39 wins on the season is third most in school history, just two shy of the overall record of 41 wins set during the 1991 season. Kentucky's 18 SEC victories ties the school record for most in a season, and they set a new school record by picking up their seventh SEC series win.

With Saturday's win, Kentucky moves one win away from clinching at least a share of the SEC Eastern division championship. The Cats are confident that they can do just that on Sunday afternoon.

When asked about his expectations for game 3, Michael Bertram's response was a simple one.

"Definitely, we are coming out tomorrow and we're going to sweep," he said.


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