Kentucky exploded for four runs in the first inning Saturday and every starter recorded at least one hit as the Wildcats held on for an 8-7 win against Auburn in the regular-season finale at Cliff Hagan Stadium. UK failed to make the SEC Tournament field when Tennessee defeated Florida in Gainesville.
Kentucky (34-19-1, 13-16-1 Southeastern Conference), which has now won at least one game in every league series in each of the past two seasons, was led by a strong performance by senior catcher Sean Coughlin, playing in the final game of his career at Cliff Hagan Stadium, who went 2-for-4 with four RBI and his 13th home run of the season.
James Paxton earned his first career SEC win to improve to 2-0 on the season after relieving starter Greg Dombrowski midway through the fifth inning. Dombrowski tossed 4 2/3 innings, allowing four runs, while striking out three. UK sophomore Scott Green relieved Paxton and struck out a career high seven batters, while working a season-best 3 1/3 innings. Aaron Lovett earned his team-leading seventh save of the season, his second in the last four games, by tossing the final 2/3 of an inning.
Center fielder Antone DeJesus tallied his 22nd multi-hit game of the season by going 3-for-5 at the plate. Brian Spear set Kentucky's single-season record for walks, having drawn 53 base on balls this season, while Sawyer Carroll connected on his SEC-leading 23rd double of the season.
Auburn (31-25, 10-20 SEC) starter Bryan Woodall took the loss to drop to 3-2 on the year, allowing five runs on five hits. Closer Brett Butts did an admirable job in the final 3 1/3 innings, holding UK scoreless and striking out two.
The Wildcats jumped on the board early with four runs in the first inning. DeJesus singled up the middle to open the game and was driven in on Spear's RBI double to right field. Carroll reached on a fielder's choice, but Auburn was unable to put the runner out at third, which put two runners in scoring position with no outs. Coughlin then singled up the middle to drive in those runners before later scoring on a throwing error by Tiger shortstop Philip Stringer.
Kentucky then added a run in the second as Spear reached on a fielder's choice with one out. He came around to score on a fielder's choice by Mike Brown.
Auburn got on the scoreboard with two runs in the fourth, highlighted by an RBI double down the left-field line by right fielder Mike Bianucci to cut Kentucky's advantage to 5-2.
The Wildcats responded in the bottom of the fourth as Carroll doubled to right field with one out. Coughlin then drilled a round-tripper over the center field wall, his 13th of the year, to extend UK's lead to 7-2. Ryan Wilkes singled through the right side on the next at-bat and scored as Tyler Howe reached on a fielder's choice.
Auburn then scored two runs in the top of the fifth to chase Dombrowski from the mound. Bianucci had a two-run single to plate both of the inning's runs and cut Kentucky's advantage to 8-4.
The Tigers added single runs in the sixth, seventh and ninth frames, but Lovett came in with two outs in the ninth inning to get the final out as first baseman Andy Bennett fouled out to Wilkes to end the game.