Feb. 18, 2012
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Southpaw Jerad Grundy didn't allow a run in his first career start and the Kentucky offense exploded for 13 hits in a 10-2 win over Eastern Michigan, on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon at USC Upstate's Harley Park.
Kentucky (2-0) rode the strong pitching performance from the junior Grundy, a transfer from Miami (Fla.) and Heartland CC, and the explosive offensive performance to the second consecutive win. The Wildcats exploded for 10 runs in back-to-back games for the first time since facing Ole Miss and Xavier in 2010.
UK's offensive attack was speared by a club-high three-hit game from Lucas Witt and three-RBI outings from each A.J. Reed and Matt Reida. Catcher Luke Maile launched his first homer of the year as part of a 2-for-4, two-RBI game. Witt finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs, with Reida charting a 2-for-4 game with a career-high three RBI, with all of his RBI coming with two outs. Witt extended his hitting streak to a team-high eight games.
"We were pretty pleased (with the offense)," UK head coach Gary Henderson said. "We swung it really well today; we hit a lot of balls on the nose. They made three great catches in the outfield that would have changed the game even more. I was really pleased. A lot of guys got hits but more important than that they got hits when it mattered, including Matty's (Matt Reida) ball there in the sixth that changed the game."
Freshman Austin Cousino continued his stellar collegiate debut, batting 2-for-5 at the top of the lineup with a double and a triple. J.T. Riddle finished 1-for-4 with an RBI, while Michael Williams added a hit. Third baseman Thomas McCarthy, a 2011 first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection, had his 11-game hitting streak snapped after drawing a walk and getting hit by a pitch in a 0-for-3, one run scored game.
Grundy (1-0) turned in a strong outing, tossing 5.2 shutout innings, allowing only three hits and three walks with four strikeouts. He was relieved by Alex Phillips with two runners on base in the bottom of the sixth inning, with Phillips getting a strikeout to end the frame.
"I liked a lot of things," Henderson said about Grundy. "He was pretty amped up in the first inning and walked a couple guys and got in a jam. He got out of it and then he found his rhythm and did a really nice job of throwing a lot of strikes. He kept them off balance with more than one pitch for a strike. I thought at one point he had 12 guys out in a row. He found a rhythm and pounded the strike zone."
In addition to the explosive offensive production and the solid pitching, UK's defense has been perfect through two games, the first two-game stretch without errors since Henderson's club won the series vs. Georgia at Cliff Hagan Stadium last year.
"Well, 18 innings and no errors, nothing even close yet, is pretty nice," Henderson said. "Obviously we will run into one down the road, but really pleased with how well we are playing defensively. Our infield defense has been pretty sharp. We made some really nice plays in the outfield. Obviously (Austin) Cousino's catch there late in the game was outstanding and then that double play that we turned there in the eight was a special one. That was a nice one."
Eastern Michigan (0-2) starter Joe Battistelli (0-1) worked 5.2 innings, allowing 10 hits and five runs, walking one and striking out three. He was relieved by Collin Taylor, who got one out and allowed two runs on two walks, before Tyler Vavra took over.
Kentucky returns to action on Sunday in the finale of its trip to South Carolina, facing USC Upstate at 3 p.m. ET at Harley Park. The game 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 game live on WLAP 630-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
The Wildcats got on the board in the top of the second inning, as Maile led off with a towering home run over the left centerfield fence, his first of the year and the 13th of his two-year career. Maile led UK with nine homers as a sophomore in 2011.
UK added two runs to its lead with two runs on four hits in the third inning. Cousino led off with a triple painted down the rightfield line. Riddle then scored Cousino with a single through the right side. After a deep fly out from McCarthy, Maile ripped a hard-hit single up the middle, bouncing off the arm of the shortstop and sailing into the outfield, with Riddle motoring around from first base to score.
"It was a 3-0 game and if they got out of that (jam) they would have some momentum," Reida said about his two-out double. "I was just looking for something to hit, got a good pitch and scored two. That was big for us."
The Wildcats plated two runs on two hits in the sixth inning to stretch their lead to 5-0. After a fly out to lead off, A.J. Reed drew a walk. Cameron Flynn followed and struck out, with Witt pushing Reed to scoring position with his second hit of the day. Matt Reida then delivered another clutch hit with a double smacked to the wall in leftfield, scoring Reed and Witt.
UK broke open the game in the seventh inning, plating five runs on three hits. Riddle, McCarthy and Williams each drew walks to load the bases with one out. Reed then cleared the bags with a 3-2 double down the right-field line. After a second out, Witt singled up the middle to score Reed from second. Witt wisely stole second base when the EMU defense wasn't alert, scoring on Reida's RBI single up the middle.
EMU got on the board off Shepherd in the ninth inning, getting four hits and one walk for two runs to cut the UK lead to the final margin, 10-2.
GAME NOTES: Freshman A.J. Reed (DH) and transfer Cameron Flynn (RF) made their first career starts ... Starting pitcher Jerad Grundy, a transfer from Miami (Fla.) and Heartland CC, made his first career UK start ... Maile launched his first homer of the year in the second inning ... Reed recorded his first career hit with one out in the second frame ... Austin Cousino recorded his first career triple in the third frame ... Matt Reida recorded his first double of the year with two outs in the sixth inning, his third career double and his third two-out RBI in the first two games of the year ... Reed notched his first career double ... Reida's two-out RBI single in the seventh stretched his two-out RBI count to four through two games, just a year after he had two, two-out RBI through the entire 2011 season ... Alex Phillips made his first appearance of the year and the 29th of his two-year career ... Lucas Witt extended his hitting streak to a team-high eight games ... UK scored double-digit runs in two straight games for the first time since facing Ole Miss and Xavier in 2010 ... Chandler Shepherd made his UK career pitching debut in the ninth inning ... UK's back-to-back errorless games marks its first since May 13-14, 2011 in a series win over Georgia.