Cats blast Gators

Just days after being named Perfect Game USA's midseason player of the year, Kentucky's A.J. Reed showed why in the opening game of the Wildcats' weekend series against Florida.

Just days after being named Perfect Game USA's midseason player of the year, Kentucky's A.J. Reed showed why in the opening game of the Wildcats' weekend series against Florida.

Reed blasted his 10th home run of the season and worked seven shutout innings on the mound in leading No. 19 Kentucky to a 17-1 romp over the No. 12 Gators on Friday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The Wildcats (21-9, 5-5 SEC) also got a grand slam from Austin Cousino and three-run homers from Max Kuhn and Micheal Thomas against the squad that entered the series atop the league standings.

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It matched UK's largest margin of victory in SEC play in school history, equaling 16-run wins over Vanderbilt in 1993 and Tennessee in 1990.

The Cats collected 17 runs on 20 hits. All nine spots in the lineup recorded a hit with eight starters driving in at least one run. Thomas Bernal went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles, while Kuhn went 3-for-5 with three RBI. Reed went 3-for-4 with his SEC-leading 10th homer. Ka'ai Tom and Matt Reida each had two hits, while JaVon Shelby, Kyle Barrett, Cousino and Thomas each had one. Zach Arnold and Greg Fettes each came off the bench to collect a hit.

"It showed our depth hitting," Reed said. "All our starters were able to get a hit today. We also had three or four guys that came in off the bench and got hits as well. There are two spots that five or six guys are competing for. It is a toss-up each day. It is a good problem to have. It is nice for our pitching staff and defense to know that our offense is going to give us run support."

Reed (6-1) scattered five hits and two walks over seven innings while striking out three. He lowered his ERA to 1.93 and recorded his fourth win over a Top 25 opponent. Earlier this season, he notched wins over No. 1 Virginia, No. 1 South Carolina and No. 5 Vanderbilt.

"A.J Reed has been good on the mound for us and has really been steady," UK head coach Gary Henderson said. "Even in the games where he doesn't have his best stuff, he is able to compete and get us in the eighth or ninth inning. He has been good deep in the count and has been really competitive in his at bats. He has done a really good job of hitting the ball in the gaps and producing RBI for us."

Florida (19-11, 6-4 SEC) starter Eric Hanhold (3-3) worked over three innings, allowing eight hits and 10 runs – nine earned – walking three and striking out two. Hanhold was coming off an impressive Friday-night win over No. 4 LSU last week, where he allowed just one run in 7.1 innings. Dane Dunning came on with no outs and runners on in the fourth inning, working one inning, allowing six hits and five runs. Frank Rubio saved the pen by working the final four innings, allowing six hits and two runs, striking out three.

The series will resume on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be televised live on FSN.


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