Kentucky got a strong starting effort from A.J. Reed and overcame a late defensive lapse to rally for a 3-2 win over No. 16 Ole Miss on Thursday in the opening game of a three-day SEC series in Oxford.
The Wildcats (25-16, 8-11 SEC) snapped a seven-game losing streak, but not before some late drama.
Kentucky led 1-0 going into the seventh inning with sophomore left-hander Reed dominating on the mound, but a two-base error and a botched pick-off attempt helped the Rebels score a pair of unearned runs to take the lead.
Trailing 2-1 in the eighth, UK's Matt Reida led off with a double and Greg Fettes drew a walk. Kyle Barrett followed with a single to load the bases for Austin Cousino, who got the tying run home with a ground ball. Earlier in the game, the All-American outfielder had staked UK to a 1-0 lead with his sixth home run of the season.
After an intentional walk to Reed to load the bases, J.T. Riddle plated the go-ahead run with another ground ball to score pinch runner Andrew Bryant.
Chandler Shepherd (3-0) entered in relief of Reed and secured the win with 2.1 strong innings of work.
"I thought we had an aggressive approach at the plate all night," UK head coach Gary Henderson said. "A.J. was obviously outstanding. Then to put Chandler Shepherd out there for 2 1/3 in a little bit of an unfamiliar role and have him do extremely well for us there. I am just really proud of those guys on the mound and getting some key hits when we needed them. We really played with a lot of heart and really proud of our kids tonight."
It marked the Wildcats' first win in Oxford since the 2007 season. UK is currently in a stretch of playing 56 innings of baseball on the road in the last five days, including an 18-inning marathon on Tuesday at Western Kentucky, the longest game played in college baseball in 2013.
Ole Miss (30-13, 10-9 SEC) had won six straight SEC games. Rebels ace Bobby Wahl worked seven innings, allowing four hits and one run, walking one and striking out three. He entered the game with an 0.89 ERA in league play.
Aaron Greenwood (3-2) took over to start the eighth with a 2-1 Ole Miss lead, allowing a pair of hits and a walk to load the bases before the Rebs used Matt Denny and Tanner Bailey in relief. Greenwood suffered the loss with the two decisive runs scoring.
The series will resume on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET at Swayze Field. The game will 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 games live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
Cats rally past Ole Miss in series opener
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