Cats drop Game 3 to Tide 3-2 but stay focused

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Despite a career performance from freshman Alex Meyer striking out 11 in seven innings, Alabama defeated Kentucky 3-2 to win the series over the Wildcats. KSR spoke with Meyer and Coach Gary Henderson after the game and they both say the Cats still have the SEC tournament in their sights and can get there.

The pitching for Kentucky this weekend was nothing short of phenomenal. The three starting pitchers threw all but two innings of the series, with Chris Rusin's complete game Saturday being sandwiched by seven inning starts from James Paxton and Alex Meyer Friday and Sunday, respectively.

Meyer scattered four hits, including a ball that bounced off backup shortstop Andy Burn's arm in the 8th inning, and struck out 11 Tide batters. Alabama came into the weekend series as one of the top batting teams in the nation, and led the SEC in hitting, averaging almost 10 runs per game.

That type of outing had to boost Meyer's confidence.

"Absolutely," Meyer agreed. "I have kinda had the confidence all along. As long as I get ahead in the count, I know I'll be fine. But it feels good. They (Alabama) are a very good offensive team, and to go out and hold them to four hits in a game is a pretty good job, and hopefully I can go out and do it again."

Coach Henderson commended both freshmen pitchers today on their outings.

"I'm really happy and pleased and impressed with Alex Meyer's peformance." Henderson said, glowing about the freshman despite the loss. "And I was pleased with (freshman) Braden Kapteyn, although he hit a guy in the 9th it was a tough situation for him to come in and he did a great job."

The performances have to give the Cats confidence as they will face two teams battling the Wildcats for a berth in the SEC tournament the next two weekends. Kentucky (7-14) will host Tennessee (6-15) and Auburn (8-13) the next two weekends, and will need as many wins as possible.

Can it be done?

"Oh sure," Coach Gary Henderson said when asked about whether the team is still focused on making the SEC tournament. "I just told the team that if we get the same three pitching performances we had this weekend, and compete as hard as we did this weekend, we'll get to Birmingham."

Kentucky will next face in-state rival Louisville Tuesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Clint Tilford is tentatively named as the starter for the contest.

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