Baseball Prepares For LSU
May 4, 2000
LEXINGTON, Ky. - With two weeks remaining in the regular season and their backs to the wall for a postseason berth, the Kentucky Wildcats play host to No. 9 Louisiana State this weekend while trailing Ole Miss by 1-1/4 games for the eighth and final spot in the upcoming Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament.
The Wildcats (31-16-1, 8-14-1 SEC), who began the season with a school-record 15-game winning streak, have struggled over the last couple of weeks, losing seven of their last nine games. Even with Ole Miss losing four of their last six conference games, the Cats have lost ground due to a three-game sweep by No. 1 South Carolina, April 22-23, and losing two of three at last-place Arkansas last weekend.
The Tigers (35-15, 15-8 SEC), ranked ninth in the current Baseball Weekly Top 25, are 3-3 in their last six conference games, but enter the weekend in a similar position to the Cats after losing 4-3 in 11 innings on Tuesday at McNeese State. UK had their 13-game home non-conference win streak snapped on Tuesday to Morehead State as the Eagles rallied for five runs in the top of the ninth to win, 12-11.
Heading into the weekend, Ole Miss has a magic number of five for clinching the final spot in the tournament. That means that any combination of Rebel wins and Wildcat losses totaling five, mathematically eliminates UK from SEC Tournament contention.
With the Wildcats playing host to their final SEC series of the season, the opener at Cliff Hagan Stadium is scheduled for Friday night at 6 p.m. EDT. Making his first career Friday night start for the Cats will be right-handed freshman Rob Corrado (4-1, 5.12 ERA). He will be opposed by the leading winner on the Tiger staff, senior left-hander Brian Tallet ( 9-3, 3.91). Saturday will be a battle between freshman right-handers as UK's winningest pitcher this season, Scott Wade (7-5, 3.69), will face LSU's Bo Pettit (4-3, 4.39). First pitch on Saturday is set for 2 p.m. In Sunday's series finale with first pitch scheduled at 1:07 p.m. to accommodate television, junior right-hander Brandon Webb (5-3, 4.50) will try to win his first game since March 24. Webb struck out a season-high 11 batters in his last start on Tuesday against Morehead, but received a no-decision despite leaving the game with the lead after five innings. Webb will be opposed by undefeated senior right-hander, Hunter Gomez (7-0, 2.81).
This weekend's series pits two of the most prolific home run hitters in the nation as the Wildcats' catcher John Wilson, ranked third in the conference and 13th nationally with 17 home runs, will do battle against the current home run leader in the SEC and fellow catcher Brad Cresse. The right-handed hitting Cresse's 23 home runs rank him second in the nation. Wilson, who hit a school-record 23 home runs last season, is the defending SEC home run champion.