Zack Brown Fires Complete-Game Shutout to Open Series
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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Zack Brown fired a complete-game shutout, only allowing two hits and striking out a career-high 11, leading Kentucky to a 6-0 win over Northern Kentucky to open the impromptu weekend series, on a sunny Saturday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (10-3) won its eighth consecutive game behind the dominating effort of Brown, who scattered just two hits over his first career complete-game shutout. A native of Seymour, Ind., Brown (1-1) worked around a first-inning double and a leadoff single in the third inning, retiring 11 consecutive hitters from the sixth inning to the end of the contest. Besides a one-out error in the sixth inning, Brown retired 21 of his first 23 hitters faced.
It marked the first complete-game shutout for UK since Dylan Dwyer threw a complete-game blanking of Cincinnati in 2014. Brown's shutout was the first weekend complete-game shutout for the Wildcats since Alex Meyer shutout No. 1 Vanderbilt in a 2-0 win in 2011. Brown is the first UK player to strikeout at least 10 in a game since Jerad Grundy fanned 12 vs. Akron in 2013.
The Wildcats were led at the plate by a two-hit game from senior Thomas Bernal. UK also got two RBI and a hit from Ka'ai Tom, with Kyle Barrett stretching his team-leading hitting streak to 11 games. UK also got a hit from Connor Heady and a double from Riley Mahan. JaVon Shelby drew a walk and was hit by a pitch, scoring a run.
Northern Kentucky (2-9) starter Matt Jefferson (0-4) worked three innings, allowing two hits and four runs, walking one and striking out three. Alex Bolia, Evan Korson, Nick Beard and Pierce Knisley pitched in relief.
Kentucky and the Norse will return to action on Saturday with a doubleheader slated for a 12 p.m. start at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The games will be broadcast on the UK Radio Network and will be televised live on SEC Network+, with Jeff Piecoro and Doug Flynn calling the action.
The Wildcats opened the scoring with a four-run rally in the third inning. Heady and Mahan both got hit by one-out pitches and Shelby drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. Tom then singled to centerfield to score the pair, then stealing second base. Bernal followed with a two-RBI single to leftfield, giving UK a 4-0 lead.
UK added a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, as Heady drew a full-count walk, scoring on Mahan's RBI double down the rightfield line. After a wild pitch, Mahan then scored on a sacrifice fly from Shelby.