HOOVER, Ala. - No. 21 Ole Miss jumped out to an early lead and held on to post a 4-1 win over Kentucky in the opener of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, eliminating the Wildcats, on Tuesday morning at the Hoover Met.
Kentucky (30-25) fell behind after the Rebels plated a single run in the first and third innings. The Wildcats manufactured a run with a delayed-steal play with two outs in the fourth inning, with Ole Miss plating a pair of runs in the sixth for a 4-1 lead. The Wildcats loaded the bases with one out in the seventh inning but couldn’t get anything across to narrow the Ole Miss lead.
UK senior starter Jerad Grundy (6-6) worked 5.2 innings, allowing nine hits and four runs, striking out one. Sophomore Chandler Shepherd came on in relief in the sixth and allowed the first hit in a span of six consecutive innings, scoring a run charged to Grundy. Shepherd worked 2.1 shutout innings, allowing just two hits and striking out two.
UK was led at the plate by a two-hit game from Matt Reida, who extended his hitting streak to a career-long 11 games. UK also got a double from Zac Zellers and singles from Kyle Barrett, A.J. Reed and J.T. Riddle. Freshman Zack Storm came off the bench to post a 2-for-2 game with a pair of singles.
Ole Miss (37-20) senior starter Mike Mayers (5-5) working 6.1 strong innings, allowing six UK hits and one unearned run, walking one and striking out four. Lefty Jeremy Massie came on in relief in the seventh, working 1.2 shutout innings, allowing one walk and an infield single to the speedy Storm. Tanner Bailey came on to record the save with three outs in the ninth.
Two singles and a sacrifice fly put Ole Miss up 1-0 in the bottom of the first. Austin Anderson reached first on a single into rightfield with one out and advanced to third on a single into a rightfield from Stuart Turner. Andrew Mistone brought Anderson home, flying out to rightfield for a sacrifice fly and giving the Rebels a 1-0 lead.
Two doubles in the bottom of the third scored an additional run for the Rebels. Christian Helsel opened the inning with a double into leftfield, moving over to third on a sacrifice bunt. Anderson followed with a double down the rightfield line, scoring Helsel and increasing the Rebels’ lead to 2-0.
Kentucky scored its first run in the top of the fourth after Zellers knocked a one-out double into right-centerfield. Reed moved Zellers to third on a ground out to second base and an Austin Cousino walk gave UK runners on first and third with two outs. With Riddle at the plate, Cousino stole second and an errant throw enabled Zellers to score from third.
Ole Miss added two in the bottom of the sixth, pushing its lead to 4-1. Mistone reached second on a double down the leftfield line and came around to score when Auston Bousfield singled into rightfield. Pinch-hitter Austin Knight singled through the right side, moving Bousfield into scoring position. A single up the middle from Will Allen scored Bousfield from second.