Cousino shakes slump to drive in winner as Cats sweep Mississippi State, take series

Staff and Special ReportsMarch 23, 2013 

  • Tuesday

    Marshall at Kentucky

    When: 6:30 p.m.

Austin Cousino's bases-loaded single in the ninth inning gave No. 8 Kentucky a 4-3 victory in the nightcap and a sweep of No. 14 Mississippi State in Saturday's doubleheader at Cliff Hagan Stadium, clinching the three-game series for the Cats.

Hunter Renfroe's second homer of the day for the Bulldogs tied the game at 3 in the fifth. Freshman Kyle Barrett started UK's ninth-inning rally with a double off the glove of left fielder Demarcus Henderson. Pinch hitter Jeff Boehm was walked intentionally and Matt Reida drew a one-out walk to load the bases.

Cousino, who entered the ninth in a 1-for-16 slump, smacked a single off the first-base bag against Bulldogs star closer Jonathan Holder.

"Just get the guy in," Cousino said of his strategy. "I wasn't trying to do too much. I just really wiped away what happened early in the game. I knew that if I could get up, I could get him in."

Kentucky improved to 18-5 overall, 4-2 Southeastern Conference, and MSU fell to 21-6 and 2-4.

"Austin's a really good player; good players rise to the moment most of the time," said UK Coach Gary Henderson, who won his 100th game at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The UK pitching staff limited Mississippi State — the SEC's top offensive club and the NCAA's second-ranked team in hits — to four hits in the game.

Junior starter Corey Littrell worked seven innings, allowing only two hits and the three runs — one earned — walking a career-high six and striking out four.

"He certainly wasn't as sharp, but (UK's defense) cost him some pitches there," Henderson said of Littrell.

After MSU won Friday's first game of the series 8-4 and UK took Saturday's opener 3-2, Littrell faced his 10th rubber match in the last two years. The lefty now owns a 7-0 record and a 1.85 ERA in those 10 outings, all UK wins.

"I was a little wild early and then the defense made errors, but the biggest thing for me was knowing that I've been in that situation before. I know I can find it at any moment," Littrell said.

MSU held the Cats to just three hits in the nightcap.

UK rode a dominating eight-inning start from senior Jerad Grundy in Saturday's opener, as he struck out 10 and allowed a pair of runs.

"Grundy was outstanding," Henderson said. "That effort today was about as good as you see in college baseball."

Junior Trevor Gott took over in the ninth after Renfroe's leadoff homer. Gott got the final three outs for his seventh save of the season and the school-record 18th of his career. Gott allowed a single and struck out two.

A.J. Reed belted a two-run homer in the first inning, his sixth of the year, to give UK a 2-0 lead.

UK collected nine hits in the game, with Reed, Zac Zellers and Max Kuhn each getting two-hit games.

Mississippi State starter Kendall Graveman (2-2) worked five innings, allowing seven hits and three runs.


Marshall at Kentucky

When: 6:30 p.m.

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