The University of Kentucky baseball team slumped badly in the second half of the 2013 campaign but closed the regular season on a high note Saturday, beating Missouri 5-1 in Columbia, Mo., to claim the No. 11 seed in this week's 12-team Southeastern Conference Tournament.
Kentucky opened the season ranked in the nation's top 10 and backed that up by winning 22 of its first 28 games. But the Cats went 8-18 the rest of the way and now find themselves possibly needing to win the SEC title in Hoover, Ala., to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
UK (30-24 overall, 11-19 SEC) scored runs in the fourth and sixth innings Saturday before freshman's Zack Storm's three-run homer in the ninth cracked open a close game.
Junior Corey Littrell (6-5) pitched seven innings, allowing six hits and one run, walking four and striking out seven. Littrell moved to No. 6 on UK's all-time victory list with his 21st career win.
Junior J.T. Riddle collected three of UK's 13 hits.
Missouri (18-31, 10-20) will be the SEC's No. 12 seed despite taking two of three from Kentucky this weekend.
At Hoover, Ala. (All times EDT)
10:30 a.m. — No. 11 seed Kentucky vs. No. 6 Mississippi, followed by No. 7 Alabama vs. No. 10 Auburn
5:30 p.m. — No. 8 Florida vs. No. 9 Texas A&M, followed by No. 5 Mississippi State vs. No. 12 Missouri
10:30 a.m. — No. 3 Arkansas vs. Game 1 winner, followed by No. 2 LSU vs. Game 2 winner
5:30 p.m. — No. 1 Vanderbilt vs. Game 3 winner, followed by No. 4 South Carolina vs. Game 4 winner.
Double-elimination play continues, wrapping up with title game Sunday, May 26, at 4:30 p.m.