March 4, 2012
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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Behind six shutout two-hit innings from starter Corey Littrell and 19 total hits, including a career-high four-hit outing from Austin Cousino and a three-hit game from catcher Luke Maile, Kentucky posted a 20-0 win over Illinois-Chicago to complete the three-game series sweep, on Sunday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
With the win, the Wildcats completed the three-game sweep of the Flames, thanks to a twinbill sweep on Saturday, with a 4-3 series-opening win and an 8-2 win in the doubleheader finale. UK jumped all over the Flames on Sunday with two runs in the first, three in the second, sixth in the third and two runs in each the sixth and seventh. UK added five runs in the bottom of the eighth for the final margin.
Kentucky (11-0) improved on the nation's best record, as one of only three teams in the NCAA still undefeated entering Sunday's competition. The Wildcats own the best record in the nation through the first three weeks of the collegiate season among teams that have played at least three games. UK joins Gonzaga (10-0) as the undefeated teams remaining in college baseball after this weekend, with previously unbeaten South Carolina suffering a walk-off loss at Clemson on Sunday afternoon.
Off to a 11-0 start to 2012, UK has opened up with the fourth-best start to a season in school annals, behind only the 19-0 starts from the 2007 and 2008 teams and a 15-0 start by the 2000 team.
The shutout was UK's second of the season, with the Wildcats also posting a 6-0 win at USC Upstate earlier this year. UK's 20-0 win is tied for the eighth-largest margin of victory in program history, with a 27-0 win over UT Martin in 2007 is the school record for the largest margin in a win.
UK's pitching staff allowed only two UIC hits in the game, both coming from the same hitter, with the Wildcats facing only three hitters over the minimum in the win.
Littrell turned in six shutout innings, allowing only two hits and two walks, striking out seven. The Louisville, Ky., native and the 2010 Louisville Slugger Kentucky High School Player of the Year, Littrell threw first-pitch strikes to 10 hitters, hurling 86 pitches with 54 going for strikes. Freshman southpaw Jeff Boehm relieved Littrell to start the seventh inning, with Boehm tossing a shutout frame. Tyler Dunaway also made his first collegiate appearance with a shutout inning in the eighth. Alex Phillips finished out the game with a shutout ninth inning.
UK's explosive offense was paced by the career-high four-hit game from Cousino, UK's dynamic freshman centerfielder. Maile also recorded three hits and an RBI, with UK getting two-hit games from Zac Zellers, Cameron Flynn and Thomas Bernal. Cousino and Maile both extended their hitting streaks to a career-long 10 games. Zellers' homer was the third of the year for the reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Week, tying Maile for the team lead.
UK also got hits from A.J. Reed, who totaled two RBI, with Brian Adams, Max Kuhn, Micheal Thomas, Paul McConkey and Lucas Witt recording hits off the bench. Kuhn's two-RBI single in the eighth inning was his first career hit. Thomas launched his first career hit, which came as a two-run homer.
A native of Dublin, Ohio, Cousino has paced the UK offense during his first 10 career games, owning the 10-game hitting streak and charting at least two or more hits in eight of his 10 collegiate games. The 5-foot-10 outfielder and leadoff man has hit .447 (21-for-47) with six doubles, one triple, one homer and 10 RBI, stealing three bases. As a team, UK's explosive offensive attack has hit .334 with 13 homers in 11 games, with UK owning a 2.64 team ERA on the mound. Overall, UK has outscored its opponents 99-30 through 10 games in 2012.
UIC (2-8) starter Matt Salemi (0-1) suffered the loss, going two innings, allowing five hits and five runs, walking one without a strikeout. Tim Suminski relieved him and allowed six runs without getting an out, before Collin Weyer and Chris Hoffman worked the final six innings.
Kentucky returns to action on Tuesday, hosting Tennessee Tech, coached by former UK star Matt Bragga. First pitch at Cliff Hagan Stadium is slated for 4 p.m. ET.
The Wildcats got on the board in the first inning, as Cousino led off with a walk, stealing second base. Zellers then got hit by a pitch and after Thomas McCarthy flied out to leftfield, Maile smacked an RBI single into the gap to score Cousino and push Zellers to third base. J.T. Riddle then hung a sacrifice fly to rightfield to score Zellers.
In the second inning, UK plated three runs on four hits, started by Flynn's leadoff double, taking third after Bernal singled to rightfield. Reida scored Flynn with a ground-ball double play. Cousino then followed with a single into left-centerfield, scoring on Zellers' third homer of the year.
UK broke open the game with six runs on four hits in the third inning, as Maile led off with a double and Riddle drew a walk. After a double steal put two runners into scoring position, Reed singled down the rightfield line to score two. Flynn followed and drew a walk and Bernal got hit by a pitch to load the bases. Reida forced home UK's sixth run of the game with a hit by pitch and Cousino plated two with a double down the rightfield line. Zellers then scored another run with a single to rightfield.
In the sixth, the Wildcats plated two runs on two hits, with Maile lacing a single to the gap to leadoff and Riddle and Reed drew walks to load the bases. Flynn hung a sacrifice fly to leftfield to score one and Bernal singled through the left side to plate Riddle.
UK added two runs in the seventh, when Adams led off with an infield single, scoring after Thomas ripped a blast over the leftfield fence for his first career hit.
In the eighth, with the UK bench unloaded, UK plated five runs on four hits. Leadoff walks to Tyler Raymond and Reida set the inning, with Cousino loading the bases with an infield single, his fourth of the game. Adams forced home a run with a bases-loaded walk and Kuhn came through with his first career hit, a two-RBI single through the right side. After a pair of strikeouts, Witt singled to centerfield to score two runs for the final margin.
GAME NOTES: Austin Cousino stole his third base of the year in the first inning ... Zac Zellers was hit by his team-high sixth pitch of the year ... J.T. Riddle recorded his second sacrifice fly of the year ... Cousino extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a two-out single in the second inning, hitting safely in every game of his UK career ... Zac Zellers hit his third homer of the year with two outs in the bottom of the second ... Maile stole his team-high sixth base of the year, equaling his career best of six steals in 2011 ... Riddle swiped his fist base of the year ... Cousino hit his sixth double of the year, leading the team ... Cameron Flynn record his fourth double of the year ... Maile launched his fourth two bagger of the season ... Matt Reida was plunked by his first pitch of the year and Thomas Bernal was hit by his third pitch of 2012 ... Cousino has now had multi-hit games in eight of his 10 career collegiate games ... Thomas McCarthy has now reached base safely in 62 of his 65 career starting assignments after drawing a walk in the third inning ... Maile has tied a career high with three hits ... Flynn notched his second sacrifice fly of the season in the sixth inning ... Cousino set a new career high with four hits ... Steven Hoagland made his first career at bat in the seventh inning ... Micheal Thomas recorded his first career hit as a home run in the bottom of the seventh inning ... Tyler Dunaway made his first career pitching appearance ... Max Kuhn recorded his first career hit ... Thomas' first career hit came as a home run, marking the first UK player to get his first career hit as a homer since Maile in 2010 ... UK's 11-0 start is its best since a school-record 19-0 start in both 2007 and 2008 and a 15-0 mark to open the 2000 season ... The shutout was UK's second of the season, with the Wildcats also posting a 6-0 win at USC Upstate earlier this year ... UK's 20-0 win is tied for the eighth-largest margin of victory in program history, with a 27-0 win over UT Martin in 2007 is the school record for the largest margin in a win.