Mizzou deals Kentucky Wildcats potentially damaging loss in series opener

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Missouri banged out five consecutive two-out hits in the critical fifth inning of Thursday's series-opening 9-3 win at Kentucky.

The first seven batters in the Tigers' lineup accounted for 14 hits, led by three from shortstop Ryan Howard and three from catcher Brett Bond. Mizzou (26-27, 9-19 SEC) also got two RBI from Kirby McGuire, Jake Ring and Trey Harris en route to the blowout at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

In doing so, Mizzou handed Kentucky (30-24, 13-15 SEC) a potentially damaging loss. The Cats are on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, and likely need to win the final two games of the series to lock down a tenuous bid. If not, UK may have to make a deep run in the SEC Tournament to play its way into the field of 64.

Tanner Houck (5-5) went the distance for the Tigers, holding UK to three earned runs on eight hits and one walk. He struck out 10 Cats.

Junior outfielder Zach Reks was one of the lone bright spots for UK, collecting two hits, including his seventh home run of the season.

A rough season continued for UK starter Zack Brown (2-11), who allowed eight earned runs on 12 hits and three walks. Four of those runs came after he had retired the first two batters to come to the plate in the fifth inning. 

The two teams are set to meet again on Friday in the second game of the SEC series. First pitch is set for Nooon ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

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