Jerad Grundy and Alex Phillips combined to scatter eight LSU hits and shut out the Tigers after the first inning of an 8-1 Kentucky win Saturday at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington, Ky.
No. 3 Kentucky (34-6, 12-5) was powered by a pair of home runs, by Austin Cousino and Luke Maile, to spearhead an 11-hit attack as the Wildcats evened the series and the top of the SEC standings with No. 4 LSU (32-8, 12-5), which won 5-4 on Friday. Sunday's rubber match will determine who gets the best of the three-game series and emerges as the SEC leader.
Here were some keys:
Big Swingers: The Wildcats not only outhit LSU 11-8, they had three extra-base hits to one for LSU, each leading to runs.
LSU pitcher Ryan Eades (5-2) had a rough outing, lasting 3 1/3 innings and giving up six runs on nine hits. He was chased by Cousino's 3-run blast, his seventh of the season, that made it 6-1 in the fourth inning. Later, Maile delivered a two-run bomb, off reliever Brent Bonvillain, to up the seventh.
LSU, on the other hand, managed one extra-base hit, a double by the usually singles-loving Raph Rhymes.
Rhyming: Rhymes went 2-for-4 for the second straight day, keeping his batting average at .485 (66-for-136). His double to left-center in the first inning off Grundy (4-1) plated Arby Fields with the Tigers' only run, and lead, of the game.
M0und Magic: LSU couldn't solve Grundy or Phillips, the Kentucky reliever who shut out the Tigers on two hits over the final three innings.
If there's a positive for LSU, it's that Phillips faced 10 batters out of the bullpen in a somewhat extended outing while LSU, which used Bonvillain and Kevin Berry for a combined 4 2/3 innings of bullpen work, rested its primary relievers and should both closer Nick Goody and lefty Chris Cotton fresh for Sunday's finale. Kentucky has yet to use Trevor Gott, who has eight saves.
Rubber Match: Sunday's noon rubber match will be a match-up of LSU freshman right-hander Austin Nola (5-1, 3.15) and Kentucky sophomore lefty Corey Littrell (6-0, 1.95), who has been the Wildcats' best starting pitcher, statistically, this season.