Kentucky Takes on Alabama in SEC Tournament


LEXINGTON, Ky. – With the bracket officially set for the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament, Kentucky will face Alabama on Tuesday, May 24, at 5:30 p.m. ET at Hoover (Ala.) Metropolitan Stadium.

Kentucky (32-24 overall, 15-15 SEC) and Alabama (31-24, 15-15 SEC) tied for eighth place in the overall league standings. UK is slotted as the No. 8 seed and Alabama at No. 9 because the Wildcats won two out of three games between the teams earlier this season.  The game will be televised on the SEC Network and also will be available on the UK Sports Radio Network.

The tournament features 12 teams.  All four of Tuesday’s tournament games, which match seeds 5-12, will be single elimination.  Tuesday’s four winners will join seeds 1-4 for double-elimination play Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  Saturday’s semifinals and Sunday’s finals are single elimination.  The winner of the UK-Alabama game will play regular-season champion Mississippi State on Wednesday.

Kentucky enters the SEC Tournament on a two-game win streak after defeating Missouri in the last two games of the series that ended the regular season. On Friday, senior Dustin Beggs threw eight shutout innings and the Wildcats hung on for a 2-1 victory. On Saturday, senior Kyle Cody threw a complete game and struck out nine batters in a 7-2 win over the Tigers.  

Offensively, the Wildcats are led by sophomore first baseman Evan White, who leads the team with a .377 batting average. He has four home runs and also leads the team with 39 RBI and 10 stolen bases. Junior left fielder Zach Reks is hitting .340 with seven homers and 22 RBI.  Sophomore shortstop Riley Mahan checks in at  .311 with five homers and 31 RBI.  Junior third baseman JaVon Shelby has 12 homers and 35 RBI.

Beggs (9-2, 3.01 earned run average) and Cody (6-2, 3.35 ERA) have led the pitching staff.  A pair of freshmen, Sean Hjelle (4-1, eight saves) and Justin Lewis (2-0, four saves), along with senior Zach Strecker (3-2) have paced the bullpen.  A starting pitcher has not been announced for Tuesday’s game.

Kentucky will be making its fourth straight appearance and 19th appearance all-time in the Southeastern Conference Tournament since the league began a tourney format in 1977. UK has a 20-32 record in the event.  

The Wildcats and Crimson Tide have met 100 times on the diamond, with Alabama holding a 60-40 edge. The teams met in Lexington on April 8-10, with Kentucky winning 3-2 and 6-2 before Alabama took the final game, 2-1.