SEC Tourney: Alabama eliminates UK 13-4

HOOVER, Ala. -- The Alabama Crimson Tide pounded seven Kentucky pitchers for 13 runs on 13 hits, including a grand slam, seven walks and four hit by pitches and beat Kentucky for the first time in five tries this season 13-4. The loss ends Kentucky's SEC tournament stay and the Cats will next await Monday's NCAA tournament selections to find out where they will be playing in regional play.

After entering the SEC tournament red-hot, winners of seven of their last eight games, including five of six SEC contests, the Cats lost two games in a span of 24 hours in diametrically different directions. Thursday night's well-played game between Ole Miss and Kentucky saw four lead changes in the last three innings, while tonight's game saw Alabama pound UK starting pitcher Greg Dombrowski for five runs in the 2nd inning, and the Tide never looked back, leading by four runs or more the entirety of the game.

Dombrowski yielded a season-high six runs

Coach John Cohen was upset with his Wildcats. "I am disappointed in our kids tonight because I felt like they just didn't show up," Cohen said. "We did not cover bases or execute the way they normally do. I think they were enamored with the 12,000 Alabama fans." Cohen added, "If we were more disappointed with the way we lost last night then that makes me even more disappointed because that is not the nature of our kids."

Nothing went right for Coach Cohen's club. Here he unsuccessfully argues an 8th inning call

The stands were obviously pro-Alabama, with the Tide playing in their home state, but it was Alabama's # 9 hitter, Alex Kubal, who delivered a grand slam home run to highlight Alabama's 5-run 2nd inning, and Alabama's Del Howell, the surprise starter who had only pitched 14 innings all season, who shut down the Cats for 6-1/3 innings that created the loss. Kubal was 0-11 on the season against Kentucky before delivering the blow.

Kentucky's play was sloppy and unfocused. Twice 2nd base went uncovered -- once on a pickoff attempt, and once on a stolen base -- with the ball speeding harmlessly into center field, as the runners advanced to 3rd. It was typical of Kentucky's night.

Coach Cohen has work ahead of him to right the ship if the Cats intend to do any damage in the NCAA tournament next week. Cohen understands the task ahead of him. "We have very special kids who have worked very hard and to end the way we ended tonight is very disappointing. It is my job as a coach to get them going in the right direction and I can guarantee that it will be a different club that takes the field next week in the NCAA Tournament."

Cohen was not a happy camper during--or after--the game

Cohen continued, " We have to get going in the right direction right now. We want to win our regional next week and you can't win playing the way we played tonight. I credit Alabama, I know they wanted to beat us badly."

And Alabama did just that. In addition to the heroics provided by Kubral and Howell, cleanup hitter Brandon May went 4-5 with two rbi's, and Kent Matthes and Alex Avila each added three hits against the Wildcats for the Tide attack.

There were a few bright spots for the Wildcats. Ryan Wilkes, who went hitless in Thursday night's game against Ole Miss, went 4-5 on the night with one run scored. Shortstop Chris Wade had two hits, including a double, an rbi, and a sacrifice bunt that ultimately led to Kentucky's first run. And 3B Chris McClendon had two hits and two rbi's as well. But for the most part, the hits were not timely, the pitching was fair, and the defense not up to the standards UK had set the first two days.

Wade drops down a sacrifice bunt]

But far too often, the Cats simply failed to capitalize on offense. The Wildcats stranded 12 runners on base--including eight in the first five innings--in stark contrast to earlier games.

Here Chris McClendon lofts a lazy fly ball into the outfield to end the inning and strand the bases loaded in the 5th.

The # 19 Kentucky Wildcats, winners of 42 games on the season, and the # 4 overall seed in the Southeastern Conference, are widely believed to be a mortal lock to be invited to the NCAA tournament. Recent projections show them as a # 2 regional seed, but with a 1-2 record in the SEC tournament, their ability to host a regional may be in jeopardy. The Wildcats will learn their fate Monday at 12:30 p.m. on the NCAA Selection Show. Until then, the Cats can only wait.
For more discussion about the game, be sure and check out the Kentucky v Alabama Game Thread, complete with photos, comments from the game, and more.

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