Presented by Jack Kain Ford
Missouri jumped out to an early lead and held off Kentucky to post a 4-2 series-opening win over the Wildcats, on Thursday night at Taylor Stadium.
Kentucky (29-23, 10-18 Southeastern Conference) fell behind in an early hole after the Tigers got two runs in the third, adding single runs in the fourth and fifth to chase UK preseason All-America southpaw A.J. Reed.
Reed (2-8) worked 4.1 innings, allowing nine hits and four runs, walking two without recording a strikeout. Sophomore Chandler Shepherd turned in a dominating performance in relief of Reed, retiring all 11 hitters he faced, working 3.2 perfect innings, striking out two and hurling just four balls in 31 total pitches.
UK collected five hits in the game, led by a two-hit performance from Kyle Barrett to extend his hitting streak to a club-high 16 games. UK also got hits from Austin Cousino, Matt Reida and Paul McConkey, with J.T. Riddle driving in a run with a groundout.
Missouri (17-30, 9-19 SEC) starter Brett Graves (2-5) worked five innings, allowing three hits and two runs – one earned – walking five and striking out three. Redshirt junior lefty Jake Walsh, who led the team in saves in 2012 with a challenging delivery style, worked two shutout innings, allowing just one UK hit. Keaton Steele took over to start the eighth, picking up his first save of the year with two shutout innings.
Micheal Thomas led off the seventh inning with a game-tying home run and A.J. Reed singled with two outs to driving in the go-ahead run and lift Kentucky to a 5-3 comeback win over No. 15 Indiana, on Tuesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (29-22) entered the bottom of the seventh trailing 3-2 after allowing a two-run inning for the Hoosiers, who rank No. 13 in the NCAA RPI and sports one of the nation’s top offenses. Thomas led off the frame with a no-doubt blast over the leftfield fence to even up the game, with UK getting the two-out, go-ahead RBI single from Reed to take a 4-3 lead. The Wildcats added an insurance run in the eighth on an Austin Cousino single and steal of second, and a RBI single from Matt Reida.
The Wildcats then turned to record-setting closer Trevor Gott in the ninth, with the junior notching his season-record 12th save of the year with just nine pitches, striking out two. A native of Lexington, Ky., Gott now has a record 23 saves in his career and has paced the dynamic UK bullpen to 86 consecutive wins when leading after eight innings, dating back to 2011. Since Gott arrived on campus as the Gatorade Kentucky High School Player of the Year out of Tates Creek in 2010 the Wildcats have gone 88-1 when leading after eight frames.
UK starter Jerad Grundy worked his sixth quality start of the year, tossing six strong innings, allowing four singles and one run, walking two and striking out two. Senior Walter Wijas took over to start the seventh, getting two outs and allowing two runs to score – one earned. Dylan Dwyer and Chandler Shepherd also worked in the seventh, with Shepherd getting out of the frame with a pop up. Shepherd (5-0) worked 1.1 shutout innings, not allowing a base runner, for his fifth win.
The Kentucky-Baylor men’s basketball game on Dec. 6 will be a part of the 2013 Big 12/SEC Challenge as announced by both conferences and ESPN on Tuesday.
All 10 of the Big 12’s teams and 10 of the SEC’s 14 member institutions will participate in the annual event. Arkansas, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee will not play in the first year. ESPN will provide exclusive coverage of all 10 games across it networks.
Eight of the 10 games in the 2013 event will be played at home sites (each conference has four home games) and two matchups will be at neutral sites.
The inaugural Big 12/SEC Challenge (the event title will rotate to SEC/Big 12 Challenge in 2014) is a combination of existing games already scheduled along with new matchups created for this event during November and December. The two conferences and ESPN will work to schedule matchups over consecutive days in future events.
2013 Big 12/SEC Challenge schedule (times and networks are to be determined):
Thursday, November 14 Texas Tech at Alabama
Monday, December 2 Vanderbilt at Texas, Auburn at Iowa State
Thursday, December 5 Ole Miss at Kansas State, West Virginia at Missouri, TCU at Mississippi State
Friday, December 6 Kentucky vs. Baylor (Arlington, Texas), South Carolina at Oklahoma State
Tuesday, December 10 Kansas at Florida
Saturday, December 21 Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma (Houston, Texas)