NO. 9 UK BASEBALL WINS FIRST SERIES AT FLORIDA IN 14 YEARS
GAINESVILLE, Fla. --
All-America southpaw Corey Littrell fired eight one-run innings and
catcher Micheal Thomas belted a three-run homer in the second inning,
leading No. 9 Kentucky to a 6-2 win over Florida, its first series win
at UF in 14 years and just the fifth in program history, on a gorgeous
Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium.
In a series that
dates back to 1953, Kentucky (16-2, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) had
only won four, three-game weekend series in Gainesville, in 1973, 1975,
1993 and 1999. After UK fell 6-1 in the series opener on Friday, UK
rebounded to even the series with an 11-5 win on Saturday, before
posting the rubber-match win on Sunday.
“It’s a good
series win,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said. “Anytime you take two
on the road, it’s a good weekend. It doesn’t matter where you are or
who you play, it’s a good weekend. It’s especially big to lose the
first one and come back and get the next two. Overall, except for that
one inning [on Friday], our defense was good all weekend long. We did a
nice job of pounding the strike zone and again got some key hits today.
Obviously it’s nice to get some good production out of the bottom of
the order, so it’s a good weekend for us.”
turned in his fourth quality start and the 18th of his career. The
Louisville, Ky., native worked eight innings, scattering 10 singles for
one run, not allowing a walk and striking out seven. He shined in the
seventh, striking out the side of the top three Florida hitters in the
“The seventh inning was huge for me
confidence-wise. I was able to get ahead early on every hitter and then
I used my curveball as well and then I was able to use my fastball to
put them away.”
With the decision, Littrell earned his
18th career win, moving into a tie with Doug Sutton (1986-88) for ninth
place all-time in UK career history.
“Corey had kind of a
unique performance,” Henderson said. “It was a clean first inning, and
then in innings two through six, we would get an out and it seemed like
there was always a guy on (base). It was a great, great job by Corey of
getting out of jams. Obviously, he got a little bit better tempo and a
little bit of a better rhythm with his game in the sixth, and then he
was dominant in the seventh inning. He was as good in concentration and
stuff in the seventh as we saw all day. I was really proud of him to go
out there and get another three outs there in the eighth.”
Littrell’s last two seasons, the southpaw has made nine starts in
series-deciding rubber matches, with UK winning all nine games and the
junior posting a 7-0 record and a 1.92 ERA.
done a phenomenal job in these situations,” Thomas said about
Littrell’s ability to dominate rubber-match games. “For him to be able
to come out every weekend and have the series put on his shoulder and
him to be able to come out and throw well is huge.”
was a big win,” Littrell said. “Coming in with the series tied 1-1, it
was my job to go out there and compete for my teammates so we could get
the win. Luckily, the bats came early, the offense played good, we got
a couple hits on them, played confident and we really showed up today.”
Gott came on to get the final three outs of the game and seal the
series win for the Wildcats, allowing a run on three hits.
thought [Corey] Littrell did a nice job making some big pitches when he
needed to,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Credit Littrell.
He’s a really good pitcher, one of the better pitchers in our league,
and he obviously showed that today. We got 10 hits on him over eight
innings and [Trevor] Gott is one of the better closers in our league
and we had some good at-bats.”
The Wildcats were led by
two-hit games from Austin Cousino, A.J. Reed, J.T. Riddle and Matt
Reida, as UK pounded out 12 hits, drew three walks and was hit by one
pitch. Thomas belted his first homer of the year – a three-run job in
the second inning that game UK a lead – with UK also getting hits from
Zac Zellers, Jeff Boehm and Kyle Barrett.
series in Gainesville, Cousino led the Wildcats with a .538 average
(7-for-13), belting a double, homer and four RBI, stealing three bases
and getting plunked by a pitch.
Florida (9-11, 1-1
SEC) starter Eric Handhold (0-1) worked 3.2 innings, allowing 10 hits
and five runs, walking one and striking out three. Lefty Daniel Gibson
replaced him in a two-out jam in the fourth, working a career-high 3.1
innings, not allowing a hit and walking two with three strikeouts. Mike
Vinson worked two shutout innings in relief of Gibson.
got on the board in the top of the second, as Boehm drew a four-pitch
walk with one out and Barrett smacked a single off the glove of
Handhold on the mound. Thomas then smashed a no-doubt three-run homer
over the stands in leftfield to give UK a 3-0 lead.
was huge,” Littrell said about Thomas’ homer. “Nothing better for him
to get his first home run and give us the early lead. It took pressure
off of my back and I was able to go out there and throw strikes.”
Wildcats plated a run in the third inning to stretch their lead to 4-0.
Reed led off with a single to rightfield, with Kuhn replacing him at
first on a fielder’s choice. UK then executed a hit-and-run with
Riddle, who singled to leftfield, with Kuhn out at third base trying to
motor headfirst into the bag. Boehm then smashed a double off the
leftfield wall, allowing Riddle to score from first.
the fourth inning, UK added a run, as Reida doubled to leadoff, taking
third on a well-placed groundout from Cousino. Zellers then singled
through the left side with the infield in to score Reida and give UK a
The Gators got on the board in the bottom of the
fifth inning, as Conor Mitchell singled to lead off and was erased on a
4-6-3 double play. Harrison Bader followed with an infield single that
sent Reida deep into the hole. After a Justin Shafer single pushed
Bader to third base, Vickash Ramjit singled to leftfield to score Bader.
added a run in the eighth, as Barrett drew a walk to leadoff, taking
second on Thomas’ sacrifice bunt. Reida then smashed a single through
the right side to score Barrett and give UK a 6-1 lead.
got a run in the ninth for the final margin. Cody Dent singled with one
out and scored on Justin Shafer’s two-out RBI single up the middle.
NOTES: J.T. Riddle made his team-leading 85th consecutive start …
Micheal Thomas hit his first homer of the year and the second of his
career in the second inning … Austin Cousino stole his eighth base in
eight attempts in the second inning … Jeff Boehm doubled for the first
time in 2013 as an RBI knock in the third … Corey Littrell picked off
his third runner of the year and the 14th of his career … Matt Reida
doubled for the third time in 2013 in the fourth inning … Thomas was
hit by his team-high ninth pitch of the year … UK won its first series
in Gainesville since 1999 and just the fifth in program history, also
winning in 1973, 1975, 1993 and 1999 … UK trails the all-time series
with Florida, 132-59-1, including a 72-23 mark in games played in
Gainesville … UK is now 1-0 in black and grey uniforms this year … In
the last two years, Littrell has made nine rubber match starts, with UK
winning all nine and posting a 7-0 record and a 1.92 ERA in those
outings … Littrell worked his fourth quality start of the year and the
18th of his career … With 18 career wins, Littrell moved into a tie for
ninth place in UK career history.