After 53 games, it all comes down to this for the baseball Wildcats: Win or there’s a chance you go home. At stake is a berth in the SEC Tournament and a possible trip to the NCAA tourney.

Kentucky’s split with 19th-ranked Auburn has left the Wildcats 11-18 in Southeastern Conference play.  Missouri, which beat Georgia 10-3 Saturday (thus taking the series with the Bulldogs) now is 10-19.  If the Cats beat Auburn Saturday, it doesn’t matter if the Tigers complete the sweep of the Dawgs; Kentucky heads for Hoover. If Mizzou wins and Kentucky loses, they end up with the same number of conference wins and Mizzou owns the tie-breaker — the series win over the Wildcats.

An Arkansas sweep of Alabama would do the job as well for Kentucky.

The Wildcats played one of their best games of the season in the doubleheader opener Friday, winning 5-1, thanks in large part to clutch hits by outfielders John Thrasher and Adam Fogel. They helped stake the Cats to a lead protected by reliever Sean Harney, who pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Zack Lee and Daniel Harper. Taking over with one out in the fourth and two men on, Harper worked out of trouble and wound up getting his third win, Harney picking up his second save of the season.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they blew a chance at a sweep and a certain trip to Hoover in game two.  Up 1-0 in the third, the Cats muffed a chance at turning an inning-ending double play, settling for a single out. Next two men up delivered RBI base hits worth three runs and Auburn never trailed after that en route to a 6-3 win.

It all comes down to what happens Saturday afternoon at Kentucky Proud Park.

(From UK Athletics)

 Adam Fogel tied his career high with three hits in the opening game and homered in game two as Kentucky split a Friday doubleheader with No. 18 Auburn at Kentucky Proud Park.

The Wildcats (29-24, 11-18 SEC) must either win on Saturday or Missouri lose to Georgia or Arkansas sweep Alabama to earn a bid to the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

UK took an early lead and cruised to a 5-1 victory in game one as Sean Harney pitched the final three innings to pick up his second save of the season. Auburn used five two-out runs over a pair of innings early in game two and closed out a 6-3 win in the night cap.

NOTES

  • UK has scored in 294 of 299 games under Coach Nick Mingione.
  • Mingione now has 172 all-time wins at UK; three behind mentor John Cohen for third on UK list.
  • The UK pitchers have struck out 537 in 53 games.
  • Senior RHP Daniel Harper made his 97th career appearance, third on the school’s all-time list.
    • He entered the series 12th on the NCAA’s active leader list.
    • His ERA in SEC games is just 1.37 on the season.
  • Junior IF Chase Estep reached base safely in 49 of the 53 games this season.
    • He has 17 multi-hit games this season and 28 in his career.
  • Senior OF Oraj Anu has a hit in 10 of 12 games since returning returning to the starting lineup on April 26.
  • Junior IF Ryan Ritter extended his reached base safely streak to 14.
  • Redshirt Freshman C Devin Burkes has reached safely in 8 straight games and has a hit in four.
  • In game one, Senior OF Adam Fogel tied his career high with three hits and homered in game two.

ON DECK
First pitch Saturday is 2 p.m. ET on SECN+ with Doug Flynn and Dick Gabriel. The radio call will be on the UK Sports Network with Darren Headrick.

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