Kentucky cruises past Alabama in SEC 1st round

State Journal Staff Report Published:

HOOVER, Ala. — A.J. Reed worked five innings to improve to 11-2 on the year, and Austin Cousino drove in three runs, leading Kentucky to a 7-1 win over No. 24 Alabama in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament Tuesday night.

Kentucky (33-22) posted the win in the single-elimination format over the Crimson Tide, with the result advancing the Wildcats to the double-elimination format. UK will now face SEC Champion and No. 11 Florida, today at 5:30 p.m., with the Gators earning a bye from the Tuesday single-elimination format.

Florida will turn to ace freshman righty Logan Shore (7-2, 1.69 ERA) for the start.

“I’m really glad to win, obviously,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said. “We are looking forward to being able to stay here and play some more baseball. I’m really proud of the effort of our kids today. It was just a really, really good day on the mound for us, with A.J. getting his 11th win of the year.”

A native of Terre Haute, Ind., Reed (11-2) worked five innings, allowing six hits and one run, walking two and striking out two, while pitching on short rest after beating Georgia on Thursday night in Athens, Ga.

The win now gives Reed sole possession of third in UK single-season history and marked his 18th career victory, good for 10th in UK history.

“A.J. did a good job competing on short rest,” UK shortstop Matt Reida said. “You could see a little fatigue early and he did a great job battling, throwing strikes. He kept attacking their hitters and making them put it in play. It’s a big park so that definitely plays a role in it. He did a great job.”

Reed added a 1-for-3 game at the plate with a double and a pair of walks. On the year, Reed has an 11-2 record and a 2.10 ERA in 103 innings, allowing 29 walks and striking out 68. At the plate, Reed is sporting a .358 average with 15 doubles, with his 23 homers and .786 slugging percentage leading college baseball, and his 70 RBI and 44 walks pacing the conference.

UK junior righty Andrew Nelson came on to start the bottom of the sixth inning and worked the final four innings, allowing just two singles, striking out one, picking up his first career save. Nelson has worked 11 shutout innings in his last three outings and has worked 12.2 innings vs. Alabama in 2014, allowing just two earned runs.

UK collected nine hits in the cavernous Hoover Met, with Cousino going 1-for-3 with three RBI and a walk. Reida, Storm Wilson and JaVon Shelby each notched two-hit games, with Micheal Thomas doubling for the ninth time. UK also got an RBI from Max Kuhn, who also drew a walk, with Thomas Bernal scoring a run on a pair of hit by pitches.

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