Baseball Clobbers No. 19 Mississippi State
LEXINGTON – Kentucky clubbed six home runs and Matt Robinson hurled 7 2/3 one-hit innings in relief to lead seventh-ranked UK to a dominating 18-5 victory over No. 19 Mississippi State on Friday night in front of 2,068 spectators at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The Wildcats won their sixth consecutive game and 13th out of their last 14th en route to clinching a spot in the Southeastern Conference Tournament for the first time since 2000. The win, combined with an Alabama loss, pushed UK’s overall lead in the SEC race to two games.
The six home runs tied a season high for Kentucky and the 13-run margin of victory was the largest for the Wildcats in a conference game since 1997. The 18 runs was the most in a league contest since hanging 19 on Vanderbilt in 2002. The first five hitters in the lineup combined to go 12-for-24 with five home runs, 12 RBIs and 12 runs scored.
Ryan Strieby had three RBIs to push his season total to 67, which tops in the SEC and second best in school history. Sean Coughlin added three as well while Collin Cowgill topped them both with four. Cowgill also scored three runs.
Kentucky starter Aaron Tennyson left the game after tossing just 2/3 of an inning when he was hit above the ankle with a line drive off the bat of Joseph Hunter. He is day-to-day with a severe bruse.
Tennyson began the first inning strong, retiring the first two batters he faced before allowing two runs on four straight hits. Robinson relieved the injured Tennyson, working the Wildcats out of a bases-loaded jam.
Robinson preformed brilliantly until being lifted in the ninth. He earned his fifth win of the season to improve to 5-1. He struck out a career-high tying seven and his 7 2/3 innings were also a career high. Troy Ragle finished the game off by getting the final two outs.
Kentucky goes for its seventh SEC series victory of the season tomorrow at 7 p.m. EDT. The Wildcats send senior southpaw Craig Snipp (5-3, 3.30 ERA) to the mound to face off with Bulldog lefty Justin Pigott (5-0, 0.94 ERA). Pigott is the reigning SEC Player of the Week. The game will be televised live by the Big Blue Sports Network and can be seen on UPN in Lexington and on FSN in selected markets.
Mississippi State (33-17, 11-13 SEC) got the scoring started in the first inning, as shortstop Thomas Berkery reached on a two-out double to deep center field. Brian LaNinfa singled to make it 1-0 and Joseph McCaskill squeaked a double down the third-base line past a diving Michael Bertram for a 2-0 lead.
UK answered in the bottom half of the first with some heady base running on the part of sophomore Collin Cowgill. He reached on a five-pitch walk and took advantage of two Bulldog errors to round the bases to score the Wildcats’ first run.
After Ryan Strieby reached on a fielder’s choice, Sean Coughlin ripped his 11th home run of the season over the center-field fence for a 3-2 UK lead. John Shelby continued the rally with his 15th double of the season. Two batters later, shortstop Ryan Wilkes drove him in with a two-out single to stretch the Wildcats’ lead to 4-2.
Kentucky tacked on another run in the second when Antone DeJesus reached courtesy of a wild pitch on a strikeout and scored on a Strieby single over the outstretched glove of Bulldog shortstop Berkery.
After being held scoreless for two innings, Shelby led off the fifth with a towering blast over the left-field fence. The home run marked Shelby’s 15th of the season and pushed the UK margin to 6-2.
Robinson held the Bulldogs hitless for 5 1/3 innings before Jeff Butts finally connected in the seventh on a solo home run over the right field fence to narrow the UK lead to 6-3.
UK answered immediately with a six-run seventh to put the game out of reach. The Wildcats connected on five straight hits in the inning, including back-to-back homers by Strieby and Coughlin. It was the team-leading 15th blast of the year for Strieby and Coughlin’s second two home run game of the year.
Kentucky continued to pile on the runs in the eighth posting another six spot as Lehmann blasted a three-run homer and Collin Cowgill added a two-run shot, his 13th of the year. Senior Steve Deaton followed with a pinch-hit single and scored when Brian Hastings rocketed a double off the wall in left.
Mississippi State went down swinging, plating two runs in the top of the ninth, as pinch hitters Bunky Kateon and Mitch Moreland came in to score for the final margin 18-5.