Mahar Dazzles in First Career Start, No. 2 UK Improves to 33-5
April 17, 2012
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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- In his first collegiate start, freshman southpaw Sam Mahar carried a perfect game into the fifth inning, tossing six shutout innings, with No. 2 Kentucky getting homers from Austin Cousino, Luke Maile and J.T. Riddle in a 7-0 win over Cincinnati, on a pleasant Tuesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (33-5) rode the strong starting debut from Mahar (3-1) to the shutout win, its fourth shutout of the year. Mahar worked six-shutout, two-hit innings, starting the top of the fifth with his perfect game intact. The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead in the win, plating three runs over the first three innings, before a three-run fourth inning put UK in the lead for good.
Mahar struck out a career-best five in his six innings, before UK used freshmen Chandler Shepherd, Spencer Drake and Taylor Martin, and junior Walter Wijas to finish of the game. Shepherd worked a shutout inning, while Drake and Martin combined to toss a shutout frame in the eighth. Wijas worked a shutout ninth.
UK belted three homers in the game, using the team-leading 10th of the year from Maile, the sixth from Cousino - who was celebrating his birthday on Tuesday - and the fourth of the season from Riddle. UK tallied nine total hits in the game, with Cousino, Maile and Thomas McCarthy collecting two-hit contests, with McCarthy adding two RBI. Cousino led off the game with his sixth homer of 2012 and his second leadoff homer to open a game on the season. UK also got hits from Matt Reida and Michael Williams, with Zac Zellers drawing a walk and A.J. Reed notching a walk and an RBI.
Cincinnati (12-24) starter Brad Mergen (0-3) suffered the loss, allowing eight hits and six runs in 3.2 innings, walking three and striking out two. Corey Atkinson worked 3.1 innings, allowing one hit and one run, walking two and striking out five. Corey Hough got the final three outs for the Bearcats.
UK will return to action on Friday, hosting No. 1 LSU in a matchup of the top teams in the nation and the teams leading the SEC. The series will open on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The series will resume on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET and conclude on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The Wildcats got on the board quickly, as Cousino launched a leadoff offering over the rightfield fence, his sixth homer of the year and his second to open up a game in 2012. Maile then cranked the Wildcats' second home run of the inning, his team-high 10th homer of the year over the leftfield fence, giving UK a 2-0 lead.
UK added to its lead in the third inning, plating one run on three hits. Reida led off the inning with a double off the wall in rightfield, his sixth double of the year. After McCarthy reached on a bloop single down the rightfield line to move Reida to third base, Reed scored Reida with a RBI fielder's choice.
The Wildcats added three runs in the bottom of the fourth, taking a 6-0 lead. Riddle drew a one-out walk and Williams followed with a single into the gap in right centerfield, pushing Riddle to third. Reida then hung his first career sacrifice fly to deep centerfield to score Riddle. Cousino followed Reida's sacrifice fly with a single to rightfield that would move Williams into scoring position. After a wild pitch that placed runners on second and third, McCarthy pounded a two RBI single into centerfield.
UK stretched its lead to 7-0 in the bottom of the fifth, as Riddle cranked his fourth homer of the year over the rightfield fence.
GAME NOTES: Freshman lefthander Sam Mahar made his first career start ... Freshman Austin Cousino hit his sixth homer of the year to leadoff the game in the first ... Cousino is the first UK player to hit a leadoff homer since he hit one to open the Buffalo game on Feb. 24 ... Cousino has now reached base safely in 34 of his 37 career games, with his leadoff homer coming on his 19th birthday ... Luke Maile hit a solo homer in the bottom of the first inning, his team-leading 10th of the year ... Maile established a new career high with his 10 homers, topping his team-high of nine in 2011 ... The 2011 season was the first for UK since 1990 that a UK player didn't reach double-digit homers ... Matt Reida hit his sixth double of the year to leadoff the third inning ... With a walk in the second inning, Zac Zellers has reached base in a team-best nine games ... Reida hung his first career sacrifice fly ... J.T. Riddle hit his career-high fourth homer of the year ... Mahar worked a career-high six shutout innings, striking out a career-best five ... UK's 33 wins in 2012 marks the seventh-most wins in UK single-season history.