LEXINGTON, KY (3/14/12)—Freshman starter A.J. Reed tossed six dominating innings with only one run allowed – throwing first-pitch strikes to the first 21 hitters he faced – adding three hits, a homer and three RBI at the plate, to lead No. 16 Kentucky to a 9-1 win over Wright State, its nation-leading 17th consecutive win to open the season, on a perfect Tuesday evening at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (17-0) won its 17th consecutive game to open the season behind the do-everything production from Reed. The dynamic two-way talent became the first player in UK baseball modern-era history (1979-present) to start a game on the mound and as the No. 4 hitter in the order. Reed (3-0) produced in that role, tossing a quality start in just his third career starting assignment.
The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder went six innings on the bump, allowing seven hits and one run, not issuing a walk and striking out six. Reed was dominating throughout the game, with his lone trouble coming in the sixth frame. He tossed first-pitch strikes to the first 21 hitters he faced in the game, needing only 78 pitches to cruise through his quality outing. At the plate Reed went a game-best 3-for-4 with three RBI, his sixth double and his second homer of the year. Through his first 16 career collegiate games, Reed has hit .364 (20-for-55) with a Southeastern Conference-leading 26 RBI.
The win improves the UK record to 17-0, the third-best start to a season in the over-100 year history of the program. UK’s start to the season is behind just the 19-0 opening to the season from the 2007 and 2008 club’s. UK leads the NCAA in wins, winning streak and is the only team in the nation left undefeated among programs that have played at least four division I games.
Kentucky jumped out to an early lead in the game, plating three runs in the first, two in the second, one in the third and three runs in the fourth inning. UK was led offensively by Reed, with senior Michael Williams also contributing a multi-hit game with a 2-for-4 outing with two RBI. Eight of UK’s nine member starting lineup recorded a hit, with Austin Cousino, J.T. Riddle, Luke Maile, Cameron Flynn and Lucas Witt each notched a knock. Flynn launched his team-best fifth homer in the game, a monster jack over the deck in right-centerfield.
Reed was relieved on the mound to start the seventh by senior Alex Phillips, who hurled a shutout seventh inning with a strikeout. Freshman righty Spencer Drake then made his first collegiate pitching appearance to start the eighth, tossing a shutout inning with a hit allowed. Freshman Jeff Boehm pitched the final frame, sealing the win for the Wildcats with a shutout inning.
Wright State (6-8) starter Joey Hoelzell (1-3) suffered the loss, allowing seven hits and six runs in 2.2 innings. WSU also used Tanner Howell, Luke Mamer and Jack Van Horn in relief.
UK will return to action on Wednesday, hosting Murray State in the first of a home-and-home midweek series. First pitch is slated for 4 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium and the game will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on WGVN 1580-AM and online at UKathletics.com. UK will send freshman right-hander Chandler Shepherd (1-0, 5.00 ERA) to the mound to face Murray State, who has yet to announce a starter.
Kentucky got started quick as Riddle nailed a one-out, line-drive double down the rightfield line and advanced to third on an overthrow of second base by Wright State rightfielder Tristan Moore. Maile followed Riddle with a walk and with runners on first and third, Reed pounded a hit through the left side of the infield, scoring Riddle and leaving runners on first and second. Flynn was then hit by a pitch to load the bases for Williams. Williams drilled a ground ball up the middle to score Maile and Reed.
Kentucky kept going in the bottom of the second as Matt Reida got the Wildcats started by reaching on a hit by pitch with one out in the bottom of the second. Cousino doubled to leftfield, scoring Reida with Cousino advancing to third on the throw home. Riddle earned his first RBI of the afternoon with a sacrifice fly to deep center that scored Cousino and gave Kentucky a 5-0 lead through two.
The Wildcats’ third inning consisted of a two-out rally, sparked by a Williams single to left. McCarthy followed Williams with a single up the middle to give Kentucky first and second with two outs. Witt then stepped up to the plate and drilled a double to right center, scoring Williams from second base.
Up 6-0, Kentucky poured it on with back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the fourth, UK’s first back-to-back homers since 2010. Maile walked with one out before Reed drilled his second home run of the year. Flynn followed Reed with a blast over the observation deck in right center, giving the Wildcats a 9-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, Witt reached base on a hit by pitch with one out before stealing second and advanced to third on a ground out to the right side by Reida. Howell worked his way out of the jam and left Witt stranded on third, Kentucky’s first scoreless inning of the game.
Reed’s scoreless day came to an end when pinch-hitter Cody Simon drilled a two-out home run in the top of the sixth.
GAME NOTES: Freshman A.J. Reed started on the mound and as the cleanup hitter … He is believed to be the first UK player in UK baseball modern history (1979-present) to start on the mound and as the No. 4 hitter … J.T. Riddle ripped his third double of the year in the first inning … Austin Cousino launched his team-leading eighth double of the year in the second inning … Cousino has hit safely in 15 of his 16 career collegiate games, reaching safely in all 16 games … With an RBI single in the first inning, Reed extended his hitting streak to a club-best eight games … Riddle recorded his team-leading third sacrifice fly of the year in the second inning … Lucas Witt notched his first extra-base hit of the year with a double in the third inning … Witt’s two-out RBI double was his fourth two-out RBI of the year … Reed hit his second homer of the year in the fourth inning and Cameron Flynn followed with his team-best fifth homer of the year, marking the first UK players to hit back-to-back homers since Lance Ray, Braden Kapteyn and Marcus Nidiffer hit three consecutive homers at Indiana in 2010 … Witt was hit by a pitch for the first time in 2012 … Reed threw first-pitch strikes to the first 21 hitters he faced in the game, with the first non first-pitch strike coming on the solo homer allowed in the top of the sixth … Reed recorded is sixth double of the year in the sixth inning … Reed turned in his second quality start of his career, tossing six innings with one run allowed … Freshman righty Spencer Drake made his first career pitching appearance n the eighth.
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Information provided by Assistant UK Media Relations Director, Brent Ingram
Posted by Luke Short—SurfKY News
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