Starting pitcher A.J. belted his nation’s leading 21st homer run, a monster shot over the right field wall to leadoff the sixth inning, in route to his SEC leading ninth win in an eight inning effort. Reed was denied an attempt at his first career complete game due to a 1:17 rain delay in the eighth. Down 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh, the Cats collected key hits from third baseman Max Kuhn and left fielder Ka’ai Tom to to score four runs in the inning to take a 6-3 series opening win over the Tigers.
Reed was outstanding in what is very likely to be his last start at Cliff Hagan Stadium (barring UK hosting an NCAA Regional). The junior southpaw worked eight inning, giving up three runs on seven hits and struck out five on 119 pitches. The Cats turned to Spencer Jack after the rain delay who closed out the game with his third save of the season.
“A.J. did a nice job tonight. He had a little bit of bump in the road but got out of that mess. He gave us a good solid start”, said head coach Gary Henderson.
Reed only ran into trouble twice the entire night, loading the bases with no outs in the fourth but allowed just one run on a sacrifice fly. The other two Auburn runs came with two outs in the sixth as three consecutive hits, ending with a two run double off the right field wall, gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
“I was a little frustrated coming off that inning. I just swung as hard as I could and I connected and luckily for us, it was a homerun”, Reed said of his homer in the sixth which moved him to second all time for single season homeruns in school history (the record is 23).
UK’s 7th inning rally was sparked by the bottom of the lineup as shortstop Matt Redia led off with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Austin Cousino singled through the right side and advanced to second on the throw home as Reida held at third. Kuhn gave the Cats the lead with a single to right that drove in Reida and allowed Cousino to score on an error. After Reed was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a wild pitch, Tom drilled an infield single off the first base bag that scored two gave UK the final margin.
The Cats and Tigers will play game two tomorrow night with first pitch scheduled for 7pm. The game will also be broadcast CWKYT in Lexington and on Fox Sports South.