GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Sean Coughlin homered twice and Chris Rusin worked a complete game, as the No. 27 Kentucky Wildcats exploded for a six-run barrage in the second inning to secure the series opener against the Florida Gators, 9-2, in front of 3,095 fans at McKethan Stadium.
Kentucky (27-10-1, 7-8-1 Southeastern Conference) got a career-best performance from Rusin. Rusin worked a stellar nine innings, allowing only two runs. The Canton, Mich., native's previous career high in innings pitched came last Friday against No. 1 Vanderbilt, where he tossed 7 1/3 innings.
Coughlin's two dingers were part of a 2-for-3 day for the preseason All-American. Freshman Jason Kipnis contributed a 3-for-4 day, one of four Wildcats to drive in two runs, as Sawyer Carroll and Keenan Wiley each drove in two runs. Wiley, who made his first career start on April 14 against Vanderbilt, finished the night 3-for-4 and is now 10-for-15 in his last four games since getting the first starting nod.
Florida (21-20, 8-8 SEC) starter Tony Davis took the loss after allowing four runs in 1 1/3 innings. Three UF relievers combined to finish off the game - Steven Porter, Kris Gawriluk, and Josh Edmonson.
Kentucky took a commanding lead in the second after a scoreless opening frame, scoring six runs on five hits and four walks, to go up 6-0. UK's Coughlin led off the inning with a first-pitch home run over the right-center field fence. The dinger was Coughlin's club-best eighth of the season. Matt McKinney followed with a double and Brian Spear reached on a walk. Ryan Wilkes laid down his team-high tying ninth sacrifice bunt of the season, allowing McKinney and Spear to advance into scoring position. Wiley ripped his second career double into the right-center field gap, scoring McKinney and Spear. Kipnis promptly drove in Wiley with the third double of the frame. Mike Brown walked and came around to score after Sawyer Carroll notched a two-run single.
Coughlin struck again in the fourth, blasting his ninth home run of the season on a line-drive shot into the UK bullpen in right field., to make it 7-0 UK.
Florida shortstop Cole Figueroa answered Coughlin in the bottom half of the fourth, ripping his eighth homer of the season, also into the visitor bullpen beyond right field.
UF's Jonathan Pigott reached on a two-out single in the bottom of the fifth and after a Rusin wild pitch, came around to touch home on an RBI single from Jon Townsend to cut the UK lead to 7-2.
Kentucky tacked onto its lead in the sixth, plating one run on one hit and two walks. Mike Brown led off with a single through the left side and two batters later, McKinney plated him with a fielder's choice.
In the seventh, Kentucky got another run to stretch its lead to 9-2, the final margin. Wilkes led off with his second walk of the contest and scored on Kipnis' second RBI of the contest, a single to the left-center gap.
UK returns to action on Saturday seeking the series win. First pitch at McKethan Stadium is set for 4 p.m. EDT.