Cats drop season finale, end hopes for SEC

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With two out and a tie game in the bottom of the seventh inning, Kentucky made a critical throwing error that led to four unearned runs by Florida, breaking open the game and giving the Gators a 13-9 win to end UK's Southeastern Conference Tournament chances.

Kentucky was a half game behind eighth-place Vanderbilt entering the final day of the regular season. The Cats needed a win over the Gators and a Tennessee victory over Vanderbilt in order to clinch a spot in the SEC Tournament.

Tennessee did its job, completing the three-game sweep of Vandy with a 9-7 win in 10 innings.

But the Cats couldn't get past Florida.

UK's Chad Wright had four hits, including two doubles and a home run. Andy Burns was 2-for-5 with four RBI, a double and a homer. Marcus Nidiffer hit his team-leading 10th homer of the year, going 1-for-2 with two runs scored.

UK freshman starter Alex Meyer struck out a career-high 12 in five innings, allowing six runs and eight hits.

Former Lexington Catholic standout Nick Maronde, now a freshman at Florida, pitched 41⁄3 innings and gave up five runs on six hits.

The Wildcats went up 8-7 in the sixth inning. Braden Kapteyn led off with a single to left field and Keenan Wiley singled through the left side, just under the reach of diving UF shortstop Mike Mooney. Nidiffer's sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position, and Kapteyn touched home on a wild pitch with Cory Farris at the plate.

Wright followed and hit a hard hopper at Mooney, who could not field the ball, allowing Wiley to score from third. Wright stole second and Burns scored him with a hard-hit double into the right-center field gap.

Florida answered with a run in the bottom of the sixth and took the lead thanks to a UK throwing error with two out in the bottom of the seventh.

After Logan Darnell got Matt den Dekker swinging, Tyler Thompson singled to left field. Darnell struck out Buddy Monroe for the second out, bringing up pinch hitter Teddy Foster. Foster hit a roller to Wade at shortstop, but Wade's routine throw to first sailed well over the head of Gunner Glad, allowing Thompson to score.

Darnell walked the next batter, and Mooney scored one with a single up the middle. Preston Tucker knocked in two more unearned runs with a double into the gap, giving the Gators a 12-8 lead.