CatsIllustrated - Cats sweep doubleheader, take series from Bama
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Cats sweep doubleheader, take series from Bama

T.J. Collett blasted three home runs in the second game of Sunday's doubleheader against Alabama.
T.J. Collett blasted three home runs in the second game of Sunday's doubleheader against Alabama. (Jeff Drummond/Cats Illustrated)

T.J. Collett saved his best game of the season for perhaps the most important that Kentucky has played to date.

The Wildcats' senior first baseman bashed three home runs in the second game of a doubleheader sweep of Alabama to give UK a much-needed series victory over the Crimson Tide at Kentucky Proud Park.

Both teams entered the series on the NCAA Tournament "bubble" with half of the SEC schedule remaining. Alabama took Friday's opener 10-1, but after a rainout on Saturday, UK fought back to win 5-2 and 11-0 on Sunday.

The Cats (24-13, 9-9 SEC) hit eight home runs in the two games. Seven of those came in the series finale, including Collett's memorable performance. He joined Ryan Johnson (2019) and Gunner Glad (2009) as the only UK players to have three long balls in one game since 2008.

In clubbing his 11th, 12th, and 13th homers of the season, Collett moved into a tie for second on UK's career home run list alongside 2014 Golden Spikes Award winner AJ Reed with 40. His five RBI moved him into 10th place on the school's career list with 142.

Coltyn Kessler and John Rhodes each hit a pair of home runs on the day, while Oraj Anu added one. The Cats had two different three-homer innings.

The display of power was only half of the story on Sunday. Kentucky also got two impressive pitching performances from Sean Harney and Zack Lee.

After beginning the season as UK's closer, Harney(3-0) stepped into a starting role due to an injury to weekend starter Mason Hazelwood. The senior right-hander worked six innings in the first game, allowing only two runs on five hits while striking out five and issuing only one walk.

Hunter Rigsby pitched a scoreless seventh inning to earn his second save of the season.

Lee (4-3) turned in the best outing of his career in the series finale, blanking Alabama on one hit over seven innings. The sophomore right-hander struck out six and walked none. He retired the final 19 batters that came to the plate and faced the minimum of 21 in the seven-inning game.

Alabama (24-15, 8-10 SEC) had only seven hits on Sunday after collecting 11 in the opening game of the series.

Kentucky returns to action Tuesday at KPP against Eastern Kentucky. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. ET. The Cats will travel to Tennessee for a three-game series beginning on Thursday in Knoxville.