Littrell, Gott Pitch UK to 2-1 Win over No. 5 Florida
May 5, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Sophomore starter Corey Littrell took a shutout into the ninth inning and sophomore closer Trevor Gott set a new single-season record with his ninth save, leading No. 3 Kentucky to a 2-1 win over two-time defending conference champion No. 5 Florida, on a pleasant Saturday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Littrell (7-0) took a 2-0 lead into the ninth inning in the longest outing of his career, handcuffing the blistering bats of the high-octane Gators, the NCAA's leader in homers. A native of Louisville, Ky., Littrell allowed a leadoff solo homer to start the ninth inning from UF's Daniel Pigott as he attempted for the complete-game shutout. UK then turned to Gott, who got one strikeout and the final three outs of the game for his single-season UK record ninth save of the year.
In a scoreless duel between two of the top pitchers in college baseball, UK struck first with a two-out RBI single up the middle from shortstop Matt Reida in the bottom of the fifth inning. UK added an insurance run in the eighth on a RBI from Luke Maile, a rally sparked by Austin Cousino's leadoff single and aggressive base running.
Kentucky (37-11, 15-9 Southeastern Conference) has now won the fifth-most games in UK single-season history, with UK's 15 conference wins the third-most in UK history. The Wildcats have improved to 13-4 in one-run games and 14-5 in one or two-run contests, with UK also boasting a 12-8 record against top-25 opponents and 10-5 against top-10 opponents in 2012.
UK totaled seven hits in the game, sparked by Cousino's 2-for-4 game at the top of the order. Senior catcher Michael Williams added a 2-for-3 game with a double, with UK also getting hits from Reida, Brian Adams and A.J. Reed. In addition to making a diving catch for the game's final out up the middle of the infield, sophomore second baseman J.T. Riddle drew a walk.
Florida (35-13, 14-10 SEC) starter Johnson (5-4) - a member of the 2011 USA Collegiate National Team and projected first-round draft pick in 2012 - worked five innings, allowing four hits and one run, walking one and striking out two. He was relieved by flame-throwing Jonathan Crawford, who toiled three innings, allowing three hits and one unearned run, striking out two.
Littrell set a new career high with his eight innings pitched, working his seventh quality start of the year and the 11th of his two-year career. The 2010 Louisville Slugger Kentucky High School Player of the Year dropped his ERA to 2.30 and boasts a staggering 7-0 record in 2012, working 74.1 innings with 61 strikeouts and 18 walks. In his eight conference starts, Littrell has a 5-0 record and a 2.50 ERA.
UK will return to action on Wednesday, traveling to face Indiana, in Bloomington, Ind., at 3 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, available in Central Kentucky on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
The Wildcats were first to get on the board in the fifth inning, as Williams poked a double down the rightfield line, with Riddle drawing a walk. Adams then hung a fly ball down the rightfield line, allowing Williams to move to third base with two outs for Reida. Reida drilled a single into centerfield to score Williams and give UK a 1-0 lead.
Kentucky added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth after Cousino led off with a single up the middle and advanced to second after a misplay by the centerfielder. A well-executed sacrifice bunt from Zellers pushed Cousino to third. With one out, Maile hit a ground ball to third, reaching on an error and scoring Cousino to push the Wildcats' lead to two.
GAME NOTES: Junior Brian Adams made his first start of the year in rightfield ... Michael Williams ripped his sixth double of the year ... Zac Zellers laid down his fifth and sixth sacrifice bunts ... Matt Reida notched his ninth two-out RBI of the year ... Freshman Austin Cousino has now reached base safely in 44 of his 47 games ... Corey Littrell worked a career-high eight innings ... Littrell's quality start was his seventh of the year and the 11th of his two-year career ... Trevor Gott set a new UK single-season record with his ninth save in 10 chances ... As a team, UK now ranks second in school history with 15 saves, just shy of the record of 17 in 1993 ... UK's 37 wins ranks fifth-most in UK single-season history and its 15 conference wins ranks third-best in UK's over-75-year history in the league ... UK is now 13-4 in one-run games and 14-5 in one or two-run games ... UK now owns a 12-8 record against top-25 opponents in 2012 and a 10-5 record against top-10 teams.