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Williams and Co. power Kentucky to series sweep in doubleheader

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Michael Williams had three hits and three RBI during Saturday's Senior Day doubleheader. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics) Michael Williams had three hits and three RBI during Saturday's Senior Day doubleheader. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
With inclement weather in the forecast for Sunday afternoon, the powers that be decided that a doubleheader would be in order for Saturday. The decision would also mean that Kentucky's Senior Day would be pushed ahead a day.

That meant double Senior Day damage for senior catcher/first baseman Michael Williams. 

Williams made the most of his opportunities, going 3-for-7 on the day with a double, home run, and three RBI. It was certainly an enjoyable, memorable day for the senior in his final regular-season appearance at Cliff Hagan Stadium. 

"I had tons of fun," said Williams. "Definitely tiring, ready to go home and go to bed. But it was a great weekend for us and I'm happy."

A great weekend it was for the Wildcats, and Williams played a huge role most of Saturday's action.

Williams played small ball in Kentucky's comeback victory in game one of the twin bill. He drove in Kentucky's third run of the game while coming around to score the tying run in UK's five-run seventh inning. The burly catcher slid into home, popped up and sparked some energy with spirited a celebration. After UK relinquished the lead in the top of the eighth, Williams worked a bases loaded walk to force in the eventual game-winning RBI.

Austin Cousino, a freshman who has made noise in the SEC all year at Kentucky, added to the seventh inning rally as well. With his single in the seventh, Cousino became the Kentucky record holder for hits by a freshman with 72. While Cousino appreciates the feat, he remains focused on the team goals ahead.

"It's something to tell my kids, that's all it is," said Cousino. "It's good for media, individually it's cool, but more importantly we came out here and got a sweep."

The run support from Cousino, Williams and company helped bail out game one starter Jerad Grundy and the bullpen. Grundy was solid, giving Kentucky five strong innings of one-run baseball before being lifted in the sixth inning. Grundy was hit on his throwing hand on a comeback ground ball to the mound that resulted in a single. 

The bullpen allowed Grundy's base runner to score, along with five others over two innings to put Kentucky in a deep 5-1 hole before the Cats played comeback.

After Williams regained the lead for UK in the eight, Trevor Gott made the 7-6 lead stand to record his third win of the season and seal the series victory for the Wildcats. It was a crucial win against the last-place team in the SEC and it gave them a chance to go for the sweep in the second half of the doubleheader.

While Kentucky played small ball in game one, the Wildcats broke out their hitting shoes in game two, with Williams, Cousino and Brian Adams all playing long ball.

Cousino sparked the offense, following the "We don't move" motto of the team and  as he took a pitch to the foot. He would later come around to score the game's first run on a double play. 

The rarely used Adams made two starts on Saturday. Adams, who plays both football and baseball at Kentucky, had trouble breaking into UK's strong offensive lineup, but he made the most of his at-bats Saturday. Adams gave Kentucky a 2-1 lead in the fourth with a two-out RBI single, the last of three consecutive two-out hits in the inning.

After Williams had tallied the first home run in the game to leadoff the sixth inning, Adams jumped on the home run train himself. In the seventh inning, Adams unloaded on a delivery from Alabama reliever Chazz Otwell and placed the ball on top of the scoreboard in deep left-centerfield to give the Cats a 7-1 lead. It was his first of the year and fourth of his career.

Adams has been a huge addition to the Kentucky clubhouse rooting on his teammates, but he was grateful for his chance to contribute on the field.

"It's been fun to watch on the bench, and I've wanted to get in there," said Adams. "But I've seen some other guys do great, and it's great to see them be successful. And it was great being in there today and have some good timing."

Kentucky starter Corey Littrell was the beneficiary of the hit parade, but as he's done all season, he was pretty strong in his own right. Littrell hurled 6.2 innings of one-run ball on his way to his eighth win of the season without dropping a decision. His eight wins are the most wins without a loss in UK history. 

Cousino capped off the day with a solo blast in the eighth, his ninth on the year. He was certainly happy to see the ball leave the yard, but he was more excited to send his seniors off with two big wins. 

"It's great. I'm close with Thomas (McCarthy), Alex (Phillips) and Michael (Williams). "I think it's good for them. They came out here, Michael had a home run, Thomas had some big hits, and that's just great on a day they're being recognized to come out here and play well."

Phillips struggled in his relief appearance in game one, but has been great all season for this Kentucky squad. And McCarthy did have some key hits in prolonging Kentucky's rallies in game one. He finished 4-for-9 with an RBI on the day.

Kentucky will finish off the regular season with a non-conference game with Murray State Tuesday before heading to Starkville, Miss. to face Mississippi State with an opportunity to gain ground in the SEC. With most SEC series wrapping up Sunday, Kentucky will be no worse than one game out of first place heading into next weekend. The two teams also battling for first place, South Carolina and Louisiana State, face off next weekend.

Many dominoes could fall between Saturday night and next week, but Kentucky is excited about the position they've put themselves in heading into the final weekend of SEC play.

"That's a good place to be," said Henderson referring to UK controlling its own destiny. "We're really happy to be in that position, and there will be plenty of a challenge down in Starkville. Their Friday night guy is as good as there is in the league, and that will be a good challenge for us. I'm just really happy our kids have come through to put us in a position to say that."

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