Auburn senior right-hander Dillon Ortman went seven innings and claimed his ninth victory Saturday, tying UK's A.J. Reed for the league lead, and the Tigers routed the host Cats 8-1 to set up a decisive finale Sunday.
The Cats (29-20) and the Tigers (27-24) are battling for a spot in the 12-team SEC Tournament. Right now, Kentucky (11-15 in the Southeastern Conference) is in the 11th spot in winning percentage, with Georgia (10-15-1) in 12th and Auburn (10-16) holding the 13th spot.
The Auburn-UK rubber game is at 1 p.m. Sunday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Ortman (9-3) allowed only one run, giving up seven hits and striking out five.
Junior Chandler Shepherd (5-3) got the loss in the shortest start of his career for Kentucky. The right-hander worked two innings and gave up eight hits with three of the five runs earned. It was Shepherd's first start since April 5, missing 21 days because of a forearm cut.
Auburn scored seven of its eight runs with two outs Saturday. Dan Glevneyak, Damon Haecker and Anfernee Grier each had three of the Tigers' 15 hits.
The Tigers scored a run in each of the first two innings Saturday before breaking the game open with a four-run third.
The Cats got a two-double game from freshman Storm Wilson, who extended his hitting streak to a team-high nine games. UK also got a double from Ka'ai Tom, who later singled, and hits from Max Kuhn, Thomas Bernal, JaVon Shelby and Micheal Thomas.