LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A.J. Reed homered for the school-record fifth straight Southeastern Conference game, Max Kuhn went 4-for-4 and Dylan Dwyer worked 6.1 shutout innings in his first career league start, leading No. 12 Kentucky to a 12-0 rout of Missouri to even the series on a perfect Saturday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (23-12, 7-7 Southeastern Conference) rallied to even up the series after suffering a late-game loss on Friday night, as the Tigers hit a three-run homer in the eighth to erase a two-run UK lead. The Wildcats pounded the Tigers on Saturday night, totaling 12 runs on 15 hits, five walks and a hit by pitch. UK used two big innings to post the win, a three-run frame in the fifth inning – highlighted by Reed’s eventual game-winning homer – and a nine-run tally in the sixth inning.
Reed, the midseason national player of the year according to Perfect Game, belted a home run for the fifth consecutive SEC game, marking a first in UK history, with records dating back to 2004.
It marked Reed’s NCAA-leading 14th homer of the year, with the native of Terre Haute, Ind., upping his SEC lead in average (.378), slugging (.803), on-base percentage (.500) and RBI (47) with a 1-for-4 night that included his 10th intentional walk of 2014. On the mound, the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder has a 6-1 record and a 2.29 ERA in nine Friday-night starts, picking up wins over No. 1 Virginia, No. 1 South Carolina, No. 5 Vanderbilt and No. 12 Florida. On Friday night vs. Missouri, Reed struck out a career-high 10 in seven innings, taking a no decision despite exiting with a two-run lead in the eighth. Last weekend, Reed – who was named the consensus national player of the week – hit homers in all three games of UK’s series win over the Gators, also working seven shutout innings on the mound.
A native of Murray, Ky., Dwyer (4-1) fired a gem in his first-career SEC start, working 6.1 shutout innings, allowing six hits – five singles – and one walk, striking out three. Dwyer worked his second career quality start and his first since throwing a complete-game shutout vs. Cincinnati on March 5.
“(Dylan) did a great job of pounding the strike zone once he got to 2-2 and full count,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said. “A lot of pitches, a lot of deep counts, only walked one guy, only had three strikeouts. The games that he’s performed really well in earlier this year he had a much higher strikeout total. He didn't have command of his changeup early, but I thought he did a really nice job of competing deep in the count and forced them to swing the bat. Obviously the ability to get the leadoff guy out in several of the innings was crucial and the couple times he got in a little bit of a jam he got out of it. So it was a really nice night for Dylan.”
Freshman Logan Salow came on in a first-and-third jam in the seventh, getting a double play to end the inning on just two pitches. Zach Strecker started the eighth, working the final two innings, allowing a hit and striking out two.
The Wildcats – who lead the SEC in nearly every offensive category – went 15-for-36 at the plate as a team, with Kuhn equaling his career high with a 4-for-4 game, also drawing a walk and driving in two runs. UK got two-hit games from Micheal Thomas, Ka’ai Tom, Storm Wilson, Thomas Bernal and Matt Reida, with JaVon Shelby scoring a run and centerfielder Austin Cousino throwing out a runner at the plate.
Missouri (16-17, 5-9 SEC) starter John Miles (2-4) worked five innings, allowing eight hits and four runs, walking three and striking out three. Missouri used Andrew Schwaab, who allowed six runs and got one out, Austin Tribby, who allowed two runs without an out, and Alex Rash to get out of the sixth inning. Rash worked 1.2 innings, allowing two hits, before Jace James finished off the game for the Tigers.
The series will conclude on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be televised live on CWKYT-TV and will be delayed on Fox Sports South, starting at 4 p.m. ET. The game will also be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com. UK will send junior righty Andrew Nelson (1-2, 2.79 ERA) to the mound to face Missouri fifth-year senior right-hander Eric Anderson (1-2, 2.96 ERA), who hit the three-run, game-winning homer on Friday night.
Kentucky got on the board first with a three-run rally in the bottom of the fifth inning. After Kuhn dropped a single into shallow rightfield with two outs, Reed smashed his NCAA-leading 14th homer of the year over the right-centerfield fence. Thomas then singled with two outs, scoring on Tom’s double down the rightfield line.
The Wildcats added to their lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Wilson led off with a double down the line, taking third on Bernal’s single to rightfield, with Wilson scoring after it was misplayed by the rightfielder for an error. Reida then singled to rightfield to score Bernal, taking second and third on an error during a Shelby sacrifice bunt attempt that allowed both runners to reach safely. Kuhn then scored Reida and Shelby with his 10th double of the year, painted down the leftfield line. After Reed was intentionally walked, Thomas singled up the middle to score Kuhn and give UK an 8-0 lead. Tom followed with a double into the left-centerfield gap, scoring Reed for a nine-run lead. After Wilson was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Bernal singled through the left side to score two UK runs.