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The Wildcats stymied by Florida LHP Hunter Barco, come up short in bid to win series
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky baseball team may be seeing Hunter Barco in its nightmares for a long time. The Florida left-hander dazzled on Saturday, keeping the Wildcats off balance with a steady diet of breaking balls as the No. 8 Gators won the series tiebreaker 9-2 at Kentucky Proud Park.
The Wildcats fell to 27-17 overall, 11-13 in Southeastern Conference play and missed a golden opportunity to claim a series over a top 10 opponent as the regular season enters its final weeks. South Carolina arrives in Lexington next weekend before league play wraps up against Vanderbilt in Nashville.
After a wild affair on Friday night that saw the Cats come within one strike of winning the series, Saturday’s contest was mostly tame. The Gators took advantage of a first inning misplay in the outfield to take an early lead and added single runs in both the second and third innings to make it 3-0. Meanwhile, Barco held the Cats at bay, yielding just two hits over 6.2 efficient innings, striking out 10 and walking just one.
The Cats clawed back within shouting distance in the eighth on back-to-back home runs by Coltyn Kessler and Oraj Anu and put two more runners on before Cam Hill flied out to deep centerfield to end the threat. Florida then added four runs in the ninth to put the game – and series – away.
Top 1st – Hickey tripled past a diving Cam Hill in CF and scored on Fabian’s SAC fly to RF. Florida 1, UK 0.
Top 2nd – Calilao singled up the middle and Acton was hit by a pitch. Young singled up the middle with the ball hitting second base and bouncing over the 2B head, scoring Calilao. Florida 2, UK 0.
Top 3rd – Armstrong walked, advanced to second on a double play grounder and scored on a single up the middle by Calilao. Florida 3, UK 0.
Top 5th – Calilao walked to open the inning, Rivera singled and Acton reached on an error. Calilao scored on a SAC fly to CF by Young, Rivera to third. Florida 4, UK 0.
Top 8th – Young doubled, advanced to third on a fly out and scored on Armstrong’s SAC fly to CF. Florida 5, UK 0.
Bottom 8th – Coltyn Kessler homered to LF. Oraj Anu followed with a homer to RF. Florida 5, UK 2.
Top 9th – Rivera singled, Acton walked and Greenfield walked. Young singled through the left side, scoring Rivera and Acton. Hickey doubled into the RF corner, scoring Greenfield and Young. Florida 9, UK 2.
- UK is 27-17 overall, 11-13 in SEC play.
- The Cats are 21-10 at Kentucky Proud Park this season.
- The Cats are 4-10 vs. ranked teams, 3-8 vs. the Top 10.
- Kentucky has scored in 51 consecutive games and 236 of 238 in the Nick Mingione era.
- The Cats are 67-of-71 on stolen base attempts this season.
- Junior IF/OF Austin Schultz went 1-for-5.
- Schultz has reached base safely in 94 of 102 career games with a plate appearance.
- He has recorded a hit in 78 of those 102 games.
- Senior C Coltyn Kessler went 2-for-4 with a solo home run.
- Kessler has reached safely in 30 of his past 32 games.
- Kessler has a nine-game hit streak.
- Kessler hit his sixth homer of the season.
- Kessler logged his 14th multi-hit game of the season, second on the team.
- Senior OF Oraj Anu went 1-for-3 with a home run and a walk.
- Anu clubbed his eighth homer of the season and 11th during his UK career.
- Senior 1B T.J. Collett went 1-for-5 and has reached base safely in 19 of his past 20 games.
Kentucky hosts Morehead State on Tuesday at Kentucky Proud Park. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on the SEC Network Plus. The radio call will be on the UK Sports Network.