Reed, Wilson Lift Baseball to Comeback at Old Dominion
Feb. 22, 2014
NORFOLK, Va. -- A.J. Reed belted a game-tying home run – his third in the last two games – in the seventh inning and Storm Wilson drove in the go-ahead runs with a two-out single, leading No. 30 Kentucky to a 7-5 win at Old Dominion, on the second day of the ODU Tournament, on Saturday evening at the Bud Metheny Complex.
Kentucky (4-2) found itself in a 5-4 hole with two outs in the seventh inning. Reed, a native of a Terre Haute, Ind., launched a game-tying homer over the left-centerfield fence, his third homer in the last two days, and after a single and a pair of walks loaded the bases for Wilson, the outfielder smashed a two-RBI single into rightfield to give UK a 7-5 lead.
“It is really important,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said on winning a close game on the road. “You have to be able to come back after giving up a lead. You have to be able to come back and score immediately after putting up a crooked number. We don’t like to do a lot of that, obviously, but sometimes the game does that to you and you have to be able to respond. Really proud of the kids tonight.”
A first-team preseason All-America selection by Baseball America, Reed led UK with a 3-for-4, three-RBI game, with a double and a walk. On Friday at the plate, Reed went 2-for-4 with six RBI, becoming the first player in Kentucky history with two homers in one inning, with his final bomb coming as a grand slam, also working seven, one-run innings on the mound for the win. On the year, Reed has hit .440 (11-for-25) with three doubles, four homers and 15 RBI.
UK starter Chandler Shepherd worked 5.1 innings, allowing eight hits and five runs, walking one and striking out three.
“(Chandler) is really talented,” Henderson said. “Tonight wasn’t his best stuff by a long shot but I thought overall his competitiveness was very good. Certainly had some nerves early one. Proud of him, overall he ends up going 5 1/3 and gives us a chance to win, and obviously Combs’ performance was outstanding.”
A native of Louisa, Ky., Shepherd loaded the bases with one out in the first, escaping with just a run allowed.
“I saw a few things, he was certainly really tight in the first inning,” Henderson said. “That part was pretty clear. Very uncharacteristic of him to put two freebees on and then we get a double play ball and we don’t get either out, at worst that should be an out, but we didn’t get one. He had bases loaded and no out and him giving up one run that was a turning point in the game, very clearly. You give up a run but the shot of adrenaline and the momentum comes over to our side because of the circumstances.”
Shepherd then cruised through the fourth before ODU tallied four two-out runs in the fifth inning. After allowing the two-out damage, Shepherd came back out for the sixth inning.
“With two outs there in the fifth, three infield hits, that what they were, and the two balls after the mound visit that fell in, and next thing you know they have a four (runs),” Henderson said. “He was at 84 pitches and we have to get him in condition to go six or seven innings and I didn’t want to pull him out after facing a little bit of adversity. I wanted to send a message that he is one of our guys and we have to get him back out there and get him in shape. So we ran him out for another nine pitches. What I really care about is Chandler thinking he is going to go seven innings, minimum, every time he goes out.
Sophomore Ryne Combs (1-0) picked up his first career win with 3.2 hitless innings of relief, walking two and striking out the final hitter of the game to seal the comeback win. A native of Lexington, Ky., Combs has worked 7.1 innings in his first two relief outings – including 3.2 innings vs. No. 1 Virginia in the season opener – allowing just two hits.
Old Dominion (4-3) starter Tommy Alexander worked 4.1 innings, allowing five hits and three runs, walking two and striking out three. With two runners on and one out in the fifth inning, lefty Turner Bishop took over, getting out of the jam with a diving play from first baseman Josiah Burney, who snagged a line-drive with the bases loaded and stepped on first for an inning-ending double play. Standout senior right-handed reliever Dean Ali (1-2) suffered the loss, allowing four runs on three hits in 1.2 innings. Brett Harris got an out and lefty Joey Benitez worked two innings without allowing an earned run.
UK’s offensive attack mounted seven runs on 11 hits and seven walks, with Reed and fellow preseason All-America selection Austin Cousino each collecting three hits. Cousino went 3-for-5 with a double, with UK also getting hits from Kyle Barrett, Ka’ai Tom, Matt Reida and Connor Heady. Senior catcher Micheal Thomas drew a pair of clutch walks, with third baseman Max Kuhn drawing a walk.
UK will conclude its weekend with St. John’s on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET at the Bud Metheny Complex. The game will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with Dick Gabriel voicing the action.
Old Dominion took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, as P.J. Higgins led off with a four-pitch walk and Connor Myers was hit by a pitch. Taylor Ostrich then chopped a ball off the plate, with Reida trying to step on the bag and throw to first for the double play but just missing the bag and the throw to first late to load the bags with no outs. After Shepherd got a strikeout of Ben Slaton in the No. 4 spot in the order, Jordan Negrini hung a sacrifice fly into centerfield to score Higgins.
UK answered in the top of the third inning, as Barrett drew a full-count walk with two outs and Cousino followed with a double into left-centerfield. After Kuhn drew a full-count walk to load the bases, Reed smashed a two-out, two-strike single up the middle to score Barrett and Cousino and give UK a 2-1 lead.
The Wildcats added to their lead in the top of the fifth inning, as Heady led off with a double down the leftfield line. Barrett then smacked a 0-1 offering into left-centerfield to score Heady from second base.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, ODU mounted a two-out rally, with Higgins singling to Reida on the edge of the grass of the left side. Connor Myers followed with a single to Reida, with his throw to first not in time to end the inning. Taylor Ostrich then chopped a single to Heady at second base, with Heady’s attempt at a sliding stop skidding under his glove to allow Higgins to score from second base. Slaton then tied the game with a single to leftfield. Negrini then smashed a first-pitch double into left-centerfield to give ODU a 5-3 lead.
UK got a run back in the sixth inning, as Thomas led off with a walk, taking third on Reida’s double into the left-centerfield gap. Wilson then appeared to triple down the rightfield line but it was ruled foul by the home plate umpire. After Wilson watched strike three, Heady delivered a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Thomas.
Reed evened up the game with two outs in the top of the seventh inning, blasting a no-doubt home run over the left-centerfield fence, his fourth homer of the year and his third in the last two games. Tom followed with a single into left-centerfield, stealing second and taking third on a wild throw on the steal. Thomas and Reida then drew walks to load the bases for Wilson. Wilson smashed a two-RBI single into rightfield for his first career RBI, lifting UK to the 7-5 lead.