Bat Cats edge LSU 7-6 to take series 2-1

mmaloney@herald-leader.comApril 22, 2012 

  • Sunday

    Kentucky vs. Purdue
    When:
    4 p.m.
    Radio: WLAP-AM 630

Every time LSU knocked, Kentucky answered.

The Wildcats edged LSU 7-6 on Sunday in the rubber game of a three-game Southeastern Conference series at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The outcome left both teams atop their divisions in the SEC, and might give Kentucky a consensus No. 1 national ranking.

East Division-leading UK (35-6, 13-5 SEC) came into play ranked No. 2 by Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America.

With their fifth consecutive rubber-match win in league play, the Cats are 12-3 in one-run games.

"I think we're pretty resilient," Coach Gary Henderson said. "I've said since early on we've got a tough group of kids. They're confident and we've got some depth. It's one thing to be tough and confident, but you've also got to have some skills. And we do."

West-leading LSU (32-9, 12-6) came in as Collegiate Baseball's No. 1 team, and Baseball America's No. 4 squad.

Henderson balked when asked if his team is No. 1.

Too many teams that he hasn't seen, he said. His Cats are playing well, though.

"I'd vote for Kentucky to be No. 1 now, sure," LSU Coach Paul Mainieri said. "I don't think there's a big difference between our two teams. Maybe we'll see each other down the road. I hope it's in Omaha, actually."

Omaha being the home of the College World Series.

Make no mistake, the Cats do think about such things.

"Yeah, it's hard not to," catcher Luke Maile said. "That's a big deal in college baseball, being able to host a regional. We've set ourselves up to kind of take advantage of that and capitalize on it, but you can't get too far ahead of yourself."

Maile noted that UK has a Tuesday rematch at Louisville, followed by an SEC road trip to Vanderbilt.

The Cats have won all six of their conference series.

"I'm pleasantly surprised. I would not say shocked," Henderson said. "At the same time, you don't take anything for granted. And that is a constant theme message that I pound into them on a weekly basis. To our club's credit, they don't take anything for granted."

The Cats won Sunday despite striking out 12 times.

They offset the whiffs by getting 11 hits from eight players, turning three double plays and continuing to get lights-out relief pitching.

Austin Cousino, who struck out five times Friday, went 3-for-5. Over the last two games, he was 5-for-10.

"Any day can be your day and you've just got to come at it with a good heart and a good energy," the freshman center fielder said. "You never know when you're time's going to get called."

LSU's Raph Rhymes went 4-for-4, drove in three runs and scored twice. He finished the series 8-for-12, raising his season average to .500.

He also gave the Tigers an early edge, leading off the second inning with his second homer of the season.

An inning later, Kentucky used a Cousino single, doubles by Thomas McCarthy and A.J. Reed, plus a Maile single to take a 3-1 lead.

When LSU tied it with two runs in the fourth, UK answered in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff homer by Zac Zellers.

LSU used run-scoring hits by Rhymes and Jordy Snikeris to take a 5-4 lead in the sixth.

UK again responded in the bottom of the inning, riding doubles by Zellers, J.T. Riddle, Matt Reida and Cousino to a three-run result.

LSU scored an unearned run in the eighth, ending the UK bullpen's scoreless streak at 20 innings. With the tying run at second base and one out, though, UK turned its third double play.

UK starter Corey Littrell gave up a season-high five runs over 52⁄3 innings.

Winning pitcher Tim Peterson (3-0) threw 11⁄3 innings before Alex Phillips worked the last two frames for his second save in as many days, and fourth of the season.

Notes

A crowd of 3,086 braved 46-degree weather and saw basketball player Anthony Davis throw the ceremonial first pitch. ... The three-game attendance of 9,496 set a stadium record, breaking the mark of 8,238 for a 2008 series against Florida. ... Said Henderson: "I personally appreciate all of our fans coming out. It makes it easier on us. It's a fun environment. Our kids are fun to watch." ... Henderson said he stuck with Phillips in the ninth, rather than closer Trevor Gott, because "the matchup was good, and I didn't want to overcoach it."

Kentucky 7, louisiana st. 6

LSUKentucky

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Fields cf 4 0 0 0 Cousino cf 5 1 3 1

Hanover 3b 3 1 1 0 McCarthy 3b 5 1 1 0

Katz 1b 4 3 3 0 Reed 1b 4 1 1 2

Rhymes lf 4 2 4 3 Maile c 3 0 1 1

Nola ss 3 0 0 0 Flynn rf 4 0 1 0

Snikeris dh 3 0 1 1 Zellers lf 4 0 1 0

Ross c 4 0 1 0 Riddle 2b 3 1 1 1

Edward rf 2 0 0 0 Williams dh 4 0 0 0

Foster pr/rf 1 0 0 0 Reida ss 4 1 1 1

Jones 2b 1 0 0 0

Yocom 2b 3 0 0 0

Totals 32 6 10 4 Totals 35 7 11 7

LSU 010 202 010—6

Kentucky 003 103 00x—7

E—McCarthy (3). DP—Kentucky 3. LOB—LSU 3, Kentucky 8. 2B—Rhymes (10), Cousino (17), McCarthy (15), Reed (9), Zellers (8), Riddle (9), Reida (7). HR—Rhymes (2), Zellers (5). HBP—Maile. SH—Snikeris (1). SB—Cousino 2 (9). CS—Hanover (4), Nola (1).

LSU IP H R ER BB SO

Nola 5 7 4 4 0 7

Bourgeois L, 1-21⁄32 2 2 0 0

Cotton 0 2 1 1 0 0

Rumbelow 12⁄30 0 0 3 3

McCune 1 0 0 0 0 2

Kentucky

Littrell 52⁄38 5 5 2 4

Peterson W, 3-0 11⁄30 0 0 1 0

Phillips S, 4 2 2 1 0 0 0

Umpires—Home, Rickey Armstrong; First, Tony Maners; Third, Morris Hodges.

T—2:56. A—3,086.

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com

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