Cats Feeling the Heat After Series Loss in Fayetteville

Spencer Howleover 6 years

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Aritcle written by:Spencer HowleSpencer Howle
[caption id="attachment_177354" align="aligncenter" width="488"]Photo from UK Athletics Photo from UK Athletics[/caption] Officially halfway through SEC play, Kentucky (19-15, 5-9 SEC) must show more consistency if it wants to compete in the postseason. In an evenly matched weekend, Arkansas (20-16, 7-8 SEC) made things tougher on the Wildcats on Sunday, claiming the series in the rubber match with a 7-3 win. After UK evened the series Saturday with a 12-run victory, the Hogs responded the following day by using an early four-run lead and a pitching clinic courtesy of Keaton McKinney (complete-game, five-hitter). The road ahead for the Cats is daunting, so it is critical for UK to take advantage of home series contests versus Tennessee and Georgia (7th and 4th place in the SEC East, respectively) and avoid sweeps against #6 Florida, #7 Vanderbilt, and #14 Missouri. It can be done, but it's time for this team to lock in down the final stretch of the regular season. With that said, let's take a deeper look at how this past weekend played out. Weekend Scores  Friday: Arkansas 5, Kentucky 3 -Andrew Benintendi led the way for Arkansas with a pair of homers. UK's Dorian Hairston had a nice game with two hits, including his second career home run, while the Wildcats collected a total of nine hits on the evening. Starting pitcher Zack Brown (2-4) suffered the loss. Saturday: Kentucky 16, Arkansas 4 -In the largest win in series history over Arkansas, and the second largest home loss in Arkansas history, the Cats sent 56 hitters to dish and 9,874 fans went home underwhelmed. UK junior leftfielder Ka'ai Tom went 3-5 with a career-high five RBI. Kyle Barrett, Evan White, JaVon Shelby, and Hairston also added multiple hits, while Zach Arnold drove in three runs. Starter Dustin Beggs (4-2) had another strong outing, allowing three runs on five hits in eight innings to earn the win. Sunday: Arkansas 7, Kentucky 3 -UK starter Kyle Cody (2-4) struggled in the series finale, allowing four runs on six hits in just 2.2 innings of work. The Razorbacks built an early lead and did not let go, clinching the series in the process. Sophomore second baseman JaVon Shelby accounted for two of UK's five hits on the afternoon, including two RBI and his second straight game with a homer. 3 Key Takeaways: 1. Kyle Cody remains an enigma. Cody started the year as a preseason All-America selection and the 19th-best prospect available in the 2015 MLB draft, but his upside has yet to come to fruition for the up and down Wildcats. Granted, UK is not playing the sisters of the poor in the mighty SEC; however, Cody, as the Sunday ace, must pitch at a high level for a team with a thin bullpen to be more competitive. 2. On the other hand, Dustin Beggs is legit. In his fifth quality start of the season on Saturday, Beggs worked eight innings, throwing 111 total pitches. The right-hander notched six strikeouts with only one walk, and surrendered just one earned run in the Cats' sole win of the weekend. These kinds of performances are becoming the norm for Beggs and it is apparent that UK thrives when he is on the mound. 3. The usual suspects on offense continue to shine, as well. Through 34 regular season games, UK sluggers Ka'ai Tom, Kyle Barrett, and JaVon Shelby are batting .374, .364, and .347, respectively. On the weekend, the three combined for a .315 average (12-38) with 13 RBI and 10 runs scored. Not too shabby. The Cats will return to action on Tuesday night, hosting Western Kentucky at 6:30 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium, before hosting conference foe Tennessee this weekend. @STHowle

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2021-09-26