The Kentucky baseball team entered a three-game series at Mississippi State this weekend with hopes of clinching a conference title.
Three losses later, those dreams were long gone.
Mississippi State took advantage of three UK errors on Saturday in an 11-3 victory at Dudy Noble Field to sweep the series. The Wildcats were held to a total of seven runs.
UK, ranked No. 1 in the nation at one point this season, will limp into the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Hoover, Ala., this week with a four-game losing streak. The Cats lost to Murray State before the trip to Starkville.
UK, seeded No. 4 in the double-elimination SEC Tournament, will play No. 9 seed Mississippi in the first round at 9:30 a.m. CT Tuesday. A win would advance UK to a second-round matchup with top seed LSU on Wednesday.
LSU's 3-2 win at South Carolina on Saturday, coupled with the UK defeat, made the Tigers the SEC regular-season champs. UK would have been co-champs with a victory.
Kentucky (41-15, 18-12) took a 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in the third inning, but from there the defense unraveled.
The Bulldogs scored three runs in the fourth, the last coming after UK failed to cover first base on a bunt.
The Bulldogs (34-21, 16-14)) tacked on five more runs in the fifth to take an 8-2 lead. Mississippi State had four hits in the inning, but two UK errors prolonged the rally. A two-base error by shortstop Matt Reida allowed the first run to score. UK reliever Walter Wijas committed a throwing error to allow another run to score.
In the seventh, Mississippi State scored three runs with two outs after an error by left fielder Brian Adams.
Kentucky got three hits in the ninth inning to score a run. Thomas Bernal's single to left drove in Lucas Witt from second base.
Michael Williams went 2-for-4 for UK with an RBI.
Corey Littrell (8-1) allowed seven runs — five earned — on seven hits and a walk, his worst outing of the season.
Mississippi State starter Evan Mitchell last just 22⁄3 innings, giving up three hits, two runs and walking two. Reliever Jacob Lindgren (2-2) pitched 51⁄3 innings and allowed one run on three hits. He struck out seven and didn't walk a batter.
Adams gives up football
UK two-sport athlete Brian Adams has decided to give up his final two seasons of football and focus on his baseball career.
Adams played in 11 football games as a sophomore last season and caught five passes for 46 yards. He was listed as the No. 2 outside receiver on the UK depth chart entering spring practice but decided to stay with the baseball team this spring as it made a run at a Southeastern Conference title.
"It has been a tremendous honor to play two sports here at Kentucky," Adams said in a news release Saturday. "I can't thank Coach (Joker) Phillips, the football staff, and Coach (Gary) Henderson and the baseball staff enough for allowing me the opportunity to do what millions of kids dream of doing at the top level in college athletics. At this point in my career and after talking with Coach Phillips and Coach Henderson, and spending time praying about it with my family, it is time for me to focus on baseball. The University of Kentucky has provided me a once-in-a-lifetime chance and I am proud to be a Wildcat."
Adams, an outfielder in baseball, batted .250 this season with one homer and seven RBI. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder from Gainesville, Ga., is eligible to be chosen in the Major League Baseball amateur draft in June.
"When we signed Brian as a two-sport athlete who was drafted by Cincinnati (Reds) coming out of high school, we knew that eventually the time would come for him to make a decision about his long-term athletic future," Phillips said.