COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- A.J. Reed hit his NCAA-leading 16th homer of the year but Texas A&M plated five runs on five consecutive two-out hits in the first inning to post a 14-2 win over No. 19 Kentucky to salvage the series and keep UK from its sixth all-time league sweep on the road, on a perfect Sunday afternoon at Blue Bell Park.
Kentucky (26-14, 9-9 Southeastern Conference) was seeking just its sixth SEC sweep on the road in program history and just its third against a team not named Vanderbilt or Tennessee. UK’s last road SEC sweep came in 2008 at Tennessee, which marked its first since 2000. UK won the first two games of the series, 6-3 on Friday, and 11-4 on Saturday at Blue Bell Park, claiming the road series against an Aggie club that was coming off a road series win at Vanderbilt and an 18-run win in midweek action.
Reed, the midseason national player of the year by Perfect Game, belted his nation-leading 16th homer of the year. The 6-foot-4, 240-pounder now has 33 career homers, tying him with John Shelby (2004-06) for 11th in UK history. His 16 bombs mark the most for a UK player since Collin Cowgill and Sawyer Carroll each hit 19 homers in 2008.
UK got a two-hit game from Thomas Bernal, with UK also getting hits from Marcus Carson, Zach Arnold, Dorian Hairston and Kyle Barrett. Hairston and Arnold each notched pinch-hit singles in the eighth inning. Carson – making his first career SEC start – earning the nod in centerfield in place of All-American Austin Cousino, who had his team-high streak snapped at 151 straight starts due to illness.
UK starter Andrew Nelson (1-4) suffered the loss, working four innings, allowing 10 hits and eight runs, walking one. He allowed the five two-out runs in the first, with the Aggies getting single runs in the second and fourth innings. Matt Snyder came on in relief in the fifth, allowing a two-run homer in the frame to finalize Nelson’s line. Snyder worked two innings, allowing three runs on three hits, walking one. Taylor Martin took over to start the bottom of the seventh inning, getting one out and allowing a pair of runs on a walk and hit. Ryne Combs came on in a jam in the seventh, working two outs and allowing two hits and one run. Freshman Robert Zeigler worked the eighth inning in his first appearance since March 8, striking out one in a shutout frame.
Texas A&M (24-17, 8-10 SEC) starter Grayson Long (5-1) – who entered with a staff-best 2.47 ERA – picked up the win, working eight innings, allowing eight hits and two runs, walking one and striking out eight. Andrew Vinson came on to work the ninth for the Aggies.
UK will return to action on Tuesday, hosting an explosive Tennessee Tech club at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The Wildcats got on the board in the top of the first inning as Reed drilled a two-strike, two-out bomb over the leftfield fence. It marked his NCAA-leading 16th homer of the year.
The Aggies answered in the bottom of the first inning, as Cole Lankford singled to centerfield with two outs, taking third on Nick Banks’ single through the right side. Jonathan Moroney then scored Lankford with a single to left-centerfield. Troy Stein then chopped a single in front of the second base bag, with Reida fielded it and his throw to try and nail Banks at the plate going to the right side of the plate for a throwing error. Ryne Birk then smashed his second homer of the year over the rightfield fence.
Texas A&M added a run to its lead in the bottom of the second inning, as Nelson walked the nine-hole hitter, Jace Statum on four pitches to open the inning. Blake Allemand then singled through the right side to put runners on the corners and no outs. Nelson then got a 4-6-3 double play ball from Logan Taylor that got Statum home for the sixth run of the game for the Aggies.
The Aggies added to their lead in the fourth inning, as Krey Bratsen reached on a one-out infield single to third base, stealing second and scoring on Statum’s RBI single off the extended glove of Shelby up the middle.
A single ended the game for Nelson to start the fifth inning, with Banks following a line out with a two-run homer off Snyder, his second homer of the year, giving TAMU a 9-1 lead.
The Wildcats got a run back in the top of the sixth inning, as Tom singled through the right side with two outs and stole second base against Aggie starter Grayson Long, who did not check the runner on back-to-back pitches. Bernal then smashed a double into the right-centerfield gap, scoring Tom.
The Aggies scored in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Snyder walked Bratsen with one out, with Bratsen stealing second and third base. Statum then lofted a sacrifice fly to left-centerfield, scoring Bratsen. Blake Allemand then singled to leftfield, taking second on a wild pitch and scoring on Taylor’s RBI single to rightfield.
Texas A&M got three runs in the bottom of the seventh, as Moroney drew a one-out walk, taking third on Stein’s double off the leftfield wall. Birk then singled to rightfield to score the duo and make it 13-2. Statum then singled up the middle to score Birk.