UK Baseball

UK baseball notes: Cats coach Henderson says beating former boss not a big deal

Kentucky Coach Gary Henderson
Kentucky Coach Gary Henderson

HOOVER, Ala. — Kentucky Coach Gary Henderson agrees that "it would make a good story" if beating Mississippi State and counterpart John Cohen meant something extra.

But, "honestly, it just doesn't," Henderson said after Thursday's 5-1 UK victory in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. "I'm glad to win. It doesn't mean anything more or less than the next guy."

Henderson served as associate head coach and pitching coach under Cohen at UK from 2004 through 2008.

Catcher Michael Williams, who was recruited by Cohen to come to Kentucky, did have a little extra zip in his step and responded with three of UK's 12 hits.

"I play hard every game," Williams said, "but it's always fun to play against guys that you know and respect."

■ Cohen said he had his team prepared for UK lefty Jerad Grundy, but his advice went for naught. Grundy gave up a run, four singles and two walks over six innings, while striking out nine.

To illustrate, Cohen told a story about his daughter recently asking if she could sample the fare at a crawfish boil.

He said sure but, "whatever you do, do not put your fingers in your eyes."

About 30 minutes later, his daughter returned with red eyes and tears.

As for Grundy, "we spent about an hour this morning watching film of this guy. And I mean almost situation by situation, our kids knew exactly what was going to happen before it did, and the kid did a great job of executing exactly what we told our kids was going to happen. 'He's going to be soft down in the zone, he's going to be hard down in the zone. If we take the soft stuff, we're not going to strike out. He gets his strikeouts with soft, down in the zone. We can't chase.'

"... So 11 punchouts later, our kids' eyes were pretty red."

■ Henderson also had eyes, although not red, on his lefty: "I'm proud of Grundy, battling through and finding that rhythm in the second inning. And proud of our guys for their selfless attitude. It's inspiring."

■ Williams on UK's 12-hit attack: "We started seeing the ball better. We're starting to be more aggressive and loose, as you can tell. When you play stiff ... you just second-guess yourself. And you've got to be loose and free and aggressive, and that's what we did today."

■ UK is now 31-1 when leading after four innings, 38-0 when leading after seven and 35-4 in day games. ... Alex Phillips' seventh save Thursday increased the staff total to a school-record 20. ... Zac Zellers was hit by a pitch for the SEC-leading 20th time this season, second-most in UK history.