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Baseball uses big innings at the plate to fuel series win over No. 12 Gators

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Max Kuhn vs. Florida
The bats came to play for the No. 19 Kentucky baseball team in a big way in a 2-1 series win over No. 12 Florida this weekend at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The Wildcats won the series opener 17-1 before an 11-10 setback Saturday and a 9-8 series winner on Sunday. 

Kentucky had six innings with four or more runs scored that helped produce the 36-run barrage. It marked the most runs scored by Kentucky against Florida in a weekend series in school history.

"The ability to score a bunch of runs in one inning, besides the obvious, helps you down the road," UK head coach Gary Henderson said. "You feel like even when you are chasing two or three that you have the ability to put a crooked number up there. You have to be able to do that a few times in order to a have a true sense of confidence that you can do that. You can talk about it all you want, but just like anything in our game, you have to do it. You have to do it more than once to feel like you can do it and have a realistic chance of doing it again."

The big innings at the plate for UK certainly came in bunches. In four consecutive innings Friday, Kentucky scored four runs three times and five runs once to jump out to a 17-0 lead in the fifth inning.

Saturday, the Wildcats were down 9-0 in the eighth inning when the bats exploded to put up eight runs on the scoreboard in the eighth inning. Florida was supposed to run away with the win in the series' second contest, but UK didn't go down easily.

It was more of the same for the home team on Sunday to secure the series win. UK was down 3-2 after it produced one-run innings in the second and third, but a seven-run sixth inning put a big number on the board and give Kentucky a big lead that was too much for the Gators to handle.

"We had a lot of guys seeing it well and we had a lot of guys taking really good swings," Henderson said of the weekend at the plate for his club. "Clearly when you have the middle of the order provide as much power as they did...A.J. (Reed) is doing a really good job. Ka'ai Tom hit the ball hard all weekend. It's opens things up for the guys down at the bottom because there are baserunners all over the place. We just had a lot of guys taking a lot of good swings and see the ball really well all weekend."

The Wildcats have an SEC-leading 110 2-out RBIs, in 32 games. Last year, they had 82 in 55 games. Sunday, UK was 8-15 with runners on base with two outs. All seven runs in the sixth inning came with two men out.

Junior Max Kuhn was responsible for three of those runs with his fourth homer of the year. His shot, which barely cleared the wall in straightaway left field, gave Kentucky a 6-3 lead. It was a lead UK would never relinquish.

"It's important," Kuhn said of the team's offensive ability. "With our hitting, we always stay in it. Just staying in the game and getting some guys on can really get our offense going. That's what we do. We get that momentum and it's tough to stop us. We had close to 50 hits and about 30 runs, which is always good in the SEC. It is something that doesn't happen very often."

The Wildcats will look to keep the offensive output going Tuesday against Morehead State at 6:30 p.m. ET before they host Missouri in a weekend series for the first time in team history. Friday's contest will begin at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium will Saturday's game commences at 2 p.m. The Wildcats and Tigers close the series Sunday at 1 p.m.

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