Baseball was swept thanks to some dramatic collapses down the stretch in each game. On Friday we lead 9-4 through four of off a not-great start by Ranaudo, then we hit the 5th inning and he fell apart, giving up one and leaving them loaded for Bertuccini who gave up 2 more before getting out of the inning. Following that, Bertuccini was on a roll for the rest of the night and we were holding on to a 9-7 lead in the ninth when CPM had a tough decision to make. Leave in Bert, who was near his average appearance length but was getting progressively better through the night, or bring in Ott, whose sole job on the team is this exact situation. Prior to this weekend, I think we all would have made the same decision and put in Ott. That turned out to be the wrong answer as Ott gave up one then threw 10 straight balls and gave up a walk-off homer with 2 on for the 9-11 Kentucky win.
It should be noted that Watkins started Fridays' game and while he was a little rusty at the plate as expected, he certainly still had his speed on the base paths. I mentioned that because for some reason, he didn't start on Saturday. In Pregame CPM had said Watkins was gong to be moved down a bit in the lineup until he got his swing back, but at the last minute he was pulled from the lineup completely. No explanation was given. The Saturday game saw Rittiner give a good start in what looked to be a pitchers duel through 3 before he gave up 2 2-run homers and was pulled for Matulis who gave up 2 more, all in the 4th. Mormann came on in the 5th and gave up 3 more before Bourgeois stopped the bleeding, but it was too late. Kentucky held off a small late rally to take the series 4-9.
Sunday we learned that the lineup we had before Watkins got hurt is still a good lineup. Watikins is back nearly %100 (he even got plonked twice on Sunday for old times sake.) But the worst message from Sunday is indeed the worst news of the weekend and maybe the season: Ott is damaged goods. Ross had a great outing, holding on to a 4-2 lead through 7, until he mishandled a bunt to the mound and completely lost his confidence almost immediately. He walked one and was pulled for Bertuccini and LaSuzzo, who both faced one batter each and left the bases loaded for Ott, who immediately gave up a grand slam for the Kentucky sweep, 4-6. I'm not sure when it happened, maybe it was the disastrous start at Florida, maybe it was the 7 innings against Bama, but Ott is broken. It showed worst on Friday where he simply could not throw a strike. Even though the hitting has comeback somewhat, this team wont be doing anything when our 2 best pitchers have head cases.
And that's where we are. Postseason will still happen, but it will be on the road. Unless the committee does something weird like give SELA a regional at our park, there is no way we host now. Of more immediate concern is that LSU, Kentucky, Bama and Tenn. are now all in a 4-way tie for the final two spots in the SEC tourney. I would say this team should have no trouble with Moo U at home. I would say we should be able to sweep playing at home against a team with no division wins this season. But as this team has a knack of proving me wrong, I'm just going to hope that the rest of the pieces fall into place for us.