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Grundy rediscovers rhythm in baseball's midweek win

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Jerad Grundy allowed just one run over five innings in UK's 4-1 win over Wright State on Tuesday. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics) Jerad Grundy allowed just one run over five innings in UK's 4-1 win over Wright State on Tuesday. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
Jerad Grundy had a lot of time to ponder his recent struggles.

The senior left-hander was replaced in his usual role as Kentucky's Saturday starter last weekend, meaning he had to wait a week and a half between outings. But in returning to the mound on Tuesday against Wright State, the worst four-start stretch of his UK career was the last thing on his mind.

"When you're a baseball player, you've got to have a short-term memory," Grundy said. "You don't want to be worrying about what you did last week and all of a sudden you're not focused on what you can do this week. You've just got to go out there and play one game at a time."

Using that approach, Grundy (6-5, 5.02 ERA) returned to form against the Raiders, looking much more like the pitcher who allowed didn't allow more than three earned runs in any start over the first seven weeks of the season. He turned in five innings of one-run ball, yielding five hits and no walks while striking out five as the Wildcats (28-19) defeated visiting Wright State (20-24), 4-1.

"I'm really happy with Jerad's performance tonight," UK head coach Gary Henderson said. "Command of all three pitches, he stayed down for the most part, briefly lost a little bit of rhythm there in the fourth and got it back and had a clean fifth inning."

It wasn't his most dominant outing or even long enough to make it a quality start, but Grundy put into practice the work he had logged over the last week. Hitters had been making him pay for pitches he left up, but Grundy kept the ball in the lower half of the zone on Tuesday, particularly during the first three innings when he didn't allow a base runner.

"His pen work has been good all year," Henderson said. "Through the starts where he's struggled with fastball command it came up a little bit, it was not indicative of what he's been doing between starts. It's a thought process issue, a relaxation issue and I thought tonight he was able to go out there and relax."

By relaxing, Grundy proved to himself once again that he can get the job done.  And in addition to buoying his own confidence, Grundy's performance was positive for the postseason prospects of a team that has just two weekends left in the regular season. As well as true freshman Kyle Cody pitched in his first Southeastern Conference start last Saturday, UK will need Grundy's experience and veteran presence.

"It definitely doesn't hurt to have another starter, especially with the stuff Kyle has," Grundy said. "That's going to be huge for us once we get in the SEC Tournament and the regionals."

That's a ways off though.

"I think anytime you've got four guys, you've got something," Henderson said. "But to be honest with you, I haven't looked that far ahead. We've got a couple weekends first."

In the meantime, Grundy is taking the short-term view, no matter whether he's pitching on a weekend or a weekday.

"We're just taking it day by day," Grundy said. "To me it doesn't really matter what my role. I just want to have a role on the team and help us win."

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