While Kentucky fans were undoubtedly more focused on their basketball team's Sweet 16 game with Louisville Friday night, the baseball version of the Wildcats went out and got another big win of its own. Already with wins over Virginia on Opening Day and a series win over South Carolina last week—each of which was ranked No. 1 at the time—UK took down another top-10 opponent on Friday, downing No. 7 Vanderbilt 4-2 in Nashville.
A.J. Reed continued to set the tone. The Wildcats' two-way star, who himself already owned wins in two of those games against UVa. and South Carolina, had some bumpy innings early on but was able to buckle down and limit the damage, as Vanderbilt, unable to build on an early lead, stranded eight runners against him through the first five innings.
The more intriguing side of the tilt figured to be between Vanderbilt ace Tyler Beede and the hot-hitting Wildcat offense, which leads the country in runs. Beede (5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 4 K) held down Kentucky early, carrying a 2-1 lead into the sixth. But he ran into trouble when he opened the top of the sixth with a hit-by-pitch and a walk, after which he was pulled. That gave Kentucky the opening it needed. Thomas Bernal, Matt Reida and Austin Cousino all singled off 'Dores reliever Hayden Stone, giving UK a 4-2 lead Reed wouldn't give back.
After his team gave him the lead, Reed locked it down. He retired 10 of the last 11 hitters he faced, working eight innings and allowing just the two runs on nine hits while striking out seven. His day's work also included two hits at the plate. The junior improved to 5-1, 2.20 after Kyle Cody, a former starter now working out of the bullpen, closed it out with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Top 25 Showdowns
(22) Tennessee at (2) South Carolina: A pitchers' duel between South Carolina's Jordan Montgomery (7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K), Tennessee's Nick Williams (7.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K) and their respective bullpens couldn't be resolved before the rains came. Play was suspended in the top of the 12th inning with the teams in a 2-2 stalemate. They'll pick up where they left off at 4 p.m. ET Saturday.
Top 25 Upsets
(10) Rice at Middle Tennessee State: The Owls got a solid start from Zech Lemond (6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R), but MTSU senior lefty Zac Curtis (9 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K) was even better, throwing hist first career complete game. The Blue Raiders, just 10-13 going into the game, broke a 2-2 tie on Michael Adkins' RBI single in the bottom of the eighth.
(11) Oregon at Stanford: After starting 5-1 in Pac-12 play, the Ducks fell flat in Palo Alto, getting swept in a doubleheader Friday 6-3 and 2-1, as the series' second game was moved up due to impending weather. The Cardinal jumped on Tommy Thorpe (3.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER) in the first game, scoring three runs in the first and never looking back. The nightcap went 11 innings before Stanford won on Tommy Edman's walk-off sac fly. Matt Krook (7 IP, 2 H, 1 R) and the Ducks bullpen limited Stanford to just three hits in the entire game, but all for naught.
(13) Mississippi at Alabama: After dominating through six weeks, the Rebels' Chris Ellis (2 IP, 7 H, 6 ER) was roughed up by the Crimson Tide. Ole Miss did come back to tie the game in the middle innings, but Alabama regained the lead in the sixth and held on for the 7-6 win. Braxton Lee and Austin Anderson each went 3-for-4 in a losing cause.
Hawaii at (15) UC Santa Barbara: Hawaii senior Matt Cooper (9 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 9 K) threw his second complete game of the season to beat UCSB 3-1, handing the Gauchos just their fourth loss of the year.
Memphis at (19) Houston: Memphis pushed across single runs in the first and sixth, which proved to be enough to beat Houston 2-1 and make a tough-luck loser of Aaron Garza (8 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER). Memphis' Caleb Wallingford (7 IP, 4 H, 0 R) shut down UH most of the night, and the Cougars' ninth-inning rally came up short as they stranded the tying run on second base.
Missouri at (21) Auburn: After taking Thursday night's opener 4-3, Missouri clinched a road series win by downing Auburn 4-2 on Friday. Missouri's Eric Anderson capped off a 3-for-4 night with the go-ahead two-run double in the top of the eighth. Keegan Thompson (6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER) struck out nine in a no-decision for Auburn.
(23) Georgia Tech at Pittsburgh: Stellar relief work by Pitt junior righty Hobie Harris, who came on in the sixth and threw 6.2 scoreless innings, enabled the Panthers to outlast the Yellow Jackets 4-3 in 13 innings. After Tech tied the game 3-3 in the top of the fourth, no one would score again until Steven Shelinsky's walk-off double in the bottom of the 13th.
(24) North Carolina at Duke: North Carolina's offensive woes continued in a 3-2 loss to Duke, as the Tar Heels were shut down by Drew Van Orden (8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 12 K). Trent Thornton (7 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 2 ER) held UNC in it but was handed his first loss of the year in the end.
Other Top 25 Results
(1) Florida State at Boston College: The Seminoles swept a doubleheader in Rhode Island, the teams choosing to move up the series' second game to Friday in anticipation of bad weather later this weekend. Luke Weaver's (9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K) one-hit gem—his first career complete game—paved the way for FSU to win the opener 6-0. The nightcap had a much different script, as the Eagles carried a 7-2 lead into the ninth before FSU erupted for nine runs, taking the lead on John Nogowski's (2-for-5, 4 RBI) grand slam. The Noles' rally spoiled a fine effort from BC starter Andrew Chin (7.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 8 K).
Virginia Tech at (3) Virginia: The Hokies' Brad Markey (7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K) kept the potent Cavaliers at bay much of the day, but UVa. finally broke through with two runs in the bottom of the seventh to win 2-1. Mike Papi (3-for-3) was the only UVa. hitter with multiple hits and sparked the decisive rally with a leadoff double. Nathan Kirby (6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R) pitched well in a no-decision for the Wahoos.
Western Kentucky at (4) Louisiana-Lafayette: This game was rained out, one of many around the Southeast. The Hilltoppers and Ragin' Cajuns will try to get a doubleheader in Saturday.
UC Davis at (5) Cal Poly: The Mustangs blew out UC Davis 8-0 in their Big West opener. Poly scored seven times in the bottom of the first, which allowed Matt Imhof (9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 13 K) to put it in cruise control, throwing his first career shutout and recording double-digits in strikeouts for the fourth time in seven starts.
(6) Oregon State at Arizona: The Beavers added to Arizona's miseries, handing the Wildcats their eighth straight loss with an 11-2 drubbing. The OSU offense pounded out 18 hits, led by Dylan Davis' 4-for-6 effort, while Ben Wetzler (7.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R) took care of business on the mound, as usual. Wetzler's last loss came 365 days ago Saturday.
(8) Louisiana State at Florida: Another game scuttled by rain. Saturday doubleheader scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET.
(9) Cal State Fullerton at Wichita State: Thomas Eshelman (7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K) extended his streak without allowing an earned run to 19 innings, and the Titans offense added some late insurance runs to take the series opener 5-1.
(12) Texas at Texas Tech: Longhorns leadoff man Brooks Marlow had a career night, going 4-for-6 with a homer and two doubles as Texas routed Texas Tech 11-1. Mark Payton (3-for-5, 3 RBI) and Tres Barrera (3-for-4, 2 2B, 3 RBI) also had big games, while Parker French (7 IP, 6 H, 1 R) dropped his ERA to 1.57.
Xavier at (14) Louisville: A five-run fourth inning keyed an 8-1 Cardinals win. Sutton Whiting (1-for-2, 2 R, 2 RBI) had a two-run single in that decisive rally and reached base three times in all, while Kyle Funkhouser (7 IP, 4 H, 0 R) improved to 5-1 on the mound.
Arkansas at (16) Mississippi State: Rain washed out this series opener as well. Doubleheader Saturday.
Arizona State at (18) UCLA: Kevin Williams' three hits sparked the Bruins to a 7-3 win. James Kaprielian (6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER) struggled early, giving up three runs in the first two innings, but he and three Bruins relievers combined to shut out ASU on just three hits over the final seven frames.
(20) Clemson at Maryland: In another series where the second game was moved up to Friday, the Tigers swept a doubleheader from feisty Maryland, 3-1 and 7-1. Daniel Gossett (8 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 6 K) and Maryland ace Jake Stinnett (8 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 6 K) had an outstanding duel in the opener, but the Tigers were able to get to the Terps bullpen for two runs in the ninth. Led by Steve Wilkerson's (3-for-4, HR, 2 2B) huge game at the plate and a first career complete game from Matthew Crownover (9 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K), the Tigers breezed in the nightcap.
Miami at (25) North Carolina State: Play was suspended due to rain with the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth. The teams will resume the series at 1 p.m. ET Saturday.