Reed Pitches UK to Series-Opening Win over Eastern Michigan

Feb. 28, 2014

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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Junior A.J. Reed worked six shutout innings and extended his hitting streak to 11 games at the plate, and sophomore Kyle Barrett collected three hits to lead Kentucky to an 8-2 series-opening win over Eastern Michigan, on Friday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Kentucky (7-2) and Eastern Michigan - a team that won at No. 13 Clemson on opening day - battled into the fifth inning of a scoreless game. The Wildcats then pounded out seven runs on seven two-out RBI to break open the game, adding a run in the sixth and allowing a pair of unearned runs in the seventh for the Eagles.

The consensus national and Southeastern Conference player of the week after a five-homer, three-game weekend last week, Reed (3-0) worked six innings, scattering two singles - including one bunt single - walking four and striking out five.

"A. J. had a nice day," UK head coach Gary Henderson said. "He was stronger than his previous appearances. He looked a little bit better. He was more consistent in his delivery and was competitive late in the ballgame. He threw way too many pitches. He got zeros but wasn't efficient doing it. Eastern Michigan did a nice job fouling off some pitches and that got his pitch count high."

A first-team preseason All-America southpaw Reed worked his second consecutive quality start of the year and the 12th of his three-year career. After allowing a bunt single with two outs in the second inning, Reed - a member of the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List - faced 16 consecutive hitters without allowing a hit to end his outing.

"I obviously didn't have my best stuff today, but I was able to battle through it and in the end they didn't score," Reed said. "We knew that they were going to swing early, so we were trying to attack them early. We were just trying to get them to pop up or hit it on the ground. We just kept attacking and in the end it went our way."

At the plate, Reed extended his hitting streak to 11 games, despite being intentionally walked twice in the game. Reed scored twice, raising his season total to a team-high .417 with three doubles, six homers and 17 RBI, sporting a .500 on-base percentage and a 1.000 slugging mark. On the mound, Reed has a 3-0 record and a 1.00 ERA in his three starts, including a win over No. 1 Virginia in the season opener.

Sophomore southpaw Sam Mahar took over the start the seventh inning, working 1.1 innings, allowing one hit and two unearned runs, walking one and striking out one. Freshman Logan Salow closed out the game with 1.2 hitless innings, striking out four of his five outs.

UK's offensive attack plated eight runs on 13 hits, five walks and four steals. Barrett went 3-for-5 with a RBI and two steals, with UK also getting a two-hit game from Max Kuhn (2-for-5) and Micheal Thomas (2-for-3), who added a double and two RBI. Matt Reida, Ka'ai Tom, Thomas Bernal and Connor Heady each contributed hits, with Heady and Tom charting doubles, and Reida and Tom stealing a base each.

Eastern Michigan (4-5) starter Jake Andrews (1-1) - who started EMU's win at Clemson in the season lidlifter - worked 4.2 innings, allowing eight hits and seven unearned runs, all in the fifth inning, walking four and striking out two. Devon Bronson, Layne Gusler and Zane Birchler each worked in relief for the Eagles.

The series will conclude on Saturday with a doubleheader, starting at 12 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The twinbill will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the games live on WWTF 1580-AM and online at UK will send sophomore right-hander Chandler Shepherd (1-0, 5.73 ERA) to the moudn in the first game Saturday and sophomore righty Kyle Cody (1-0, 1.93 ERA) in the finale.

After a scoreless first four innings, Kentucky busted open the game with seven two-out RBI in the fifth inning. Barrett led off with a hard-hit ball under the glove of the EMU shortstop for an error. After a pair of groundouts, Reed was intentionally walked and Tom followed with a four-pitch walk to load the bases. Thomas then singled up the middle, with the second baseman making a sliding play to keep the bases loaded for Reida. Reida drew a walk to force in another run and bring Bernal to the plate. Bernal singled to centerfield, scoring two, with Heady following with a two-RBI double down the leftfield line. Barrett then smacked a single to rightfield to score Heady for a 7-0 UK lead.

UK added a run in the sixth inning, as Reed singled with one out, taking third on Tom's double and scoring on Thomas' sacrifice fly to leftfield.

In the seventh inning, EMU rallied with a two-out walk and a single up the middle. After an error moved both runners into scoring position, a ball skidded under the glove of UK's third baseman, allowing a pair of runs to score for an 8-2 game.