The University of Kentucky tuned up for its final Southeastern Conference baseball series of the regular season this weekend with a 4-1 victory over Murray State in Paducah on Tuesday night.
Evan White and Zach Reks hit back-to-back home runs in the third inning to pave the way for UK starter Zach Logue in the rain-shortened eight-inning game.
Coach Gary Henderson’s Wildcats (30-23) have now won at least 30 games in five straight seasons, the longest such streak in school history.
Kentucky starts a three-game series on Thursday against Missouri (25-27 overall, 8-19 SEC) at Cliff Hagan Stadium. First pitch is 6:30 p.m.
The Wildcats will spend the weekend attempting to pad their résumé for NCAA Tournament selection. Kentucky, 13-14 in SEC play, enters the Missouri series with the ninth-best record in the league. Last season, seven SEC teams were selected for the NCAA Tournament. UK has already earned a spot in next week’s 12-team SEC Tournament at Hoover, Ala., and has a chance to enhance its seeding for that event this weekend.
On Tuesday night against Murray State (25-28), sophomore left-hander Logue dug deep and put a stop to Kentucky’s skid against in-state foes. Logue (3-1) allowed five hits in 5 2/3 innings, walking none and striking out seven. Relievers Zach Pop and Logan Salow sealed up the win.
Before Tuesday, Kentucky had lost consecutive in-state games to Eastern Kentucky, Louisville (twice) and Northern Kentucky. Prior to that, UK beat Morehead State, lost to Western Kentucky and defeated Murray State 11-1 when the teams met in Lexington on March 9. Kentucky finished the regular season 3-5 against in-state opponents.
White, a sophomore first baseman, homered to left field with one out in the second inning, his fourth long ball of the season, to give the Cats a 1-0 lead. Two pitches later, junior left fielder Reks hit his sixth for a 2-0 lead.
Both players extended hitting streaks Tuesday, White to 12 games and Reks to eight.
In the sixth, sophomore shortstop Riley Mahan led off with a single, then scored on a double by senior outfielder Dorian Hairston. Junior designated hitter Gunnar McNeill followed with a double of his own, scoring Hairston to extend the lead to 4-0.
Murray State scored its lone run in the seventh inning off Pop.
Missouri at Kentucky
Thursday: 6:30 p.m.
Friday: 6:30 p.m.
Saturday: 1 p.m.
Live video broadcasts: All three games on SEC Network Plus (online only)
This weekend’s series
Missouri at Kentucky
Tennessee at Georgia
Florida at LSU
Auburn at Vanderbilt
Arkansas at Mississippi State
Mississippi at Texas A&M
South Carolina at Alabama