LEXINGTON, Ky. - No. 27 Kentucky got a three-hit game from fifth-year senior catcher Micheal Thomas – the Southeastern Conference’s leading hitter – and two-RBI games from Austin Cousino, Storm Wilson, Marcus Carson and Matt Reida, posting a 10-2 win over Western Kentucky, on Tuesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (15-6) posted an eight-run win in its lone midweek game of the year, getting a strong offensive performance that included a four-run frame in the first and a six-run innings in the seventh, with the Hilltoppers getting single runs in the third and fourth innings.
The Wildcats were led at the plate by Thomas, who raised his average to a conference-leading .431 with his 3-for-5 game, adding two singles and a double. Cousino extended his conference-leading hitting streak to 16 games, also equaling his career high, with a 2-for-5 game with two RBI, adding his ninth steal in as many attempts. Carson, making his first career start in centerfield, went 2-for-3 with two RBI, with Reida going 1-for-4 with two RBI and Wilson going 1-for-3 with two RBI.
UK also got a career-high three-walk game from leftfielder Ka’ai Tom, with A.J. Reed – the NCAA leader in home runs – going 1-for-3 with two walks and two runs. Freshman second baseman JaVon Shelby added a 2-for-4 game with his third double of the year.
UK sophomore left-handed starter Ryne Combs, making his first start of the year – worked four innings, allowing six hits and two runs – one earned – not issuing a walk and striking out one. Sophomore southpaw Sam Mahar (1-0) picked up the win with a season-high three shutout innings, allowing two hits and a walk, striking out three. Sophomore Zach Strecker came on to start the eighth, working a shutout frame with two strikeouts. Freshman Logan Salow worked the ninth inning, allowing a single.
Western Kentucky (12-9) starter Josh Bartley worked five innings, allowing seven hits and four runs, walking four and striking out one. Sam Higgs, Ryan Thurston, Ian Tompkins and Brennan Pearson worked in relief for WKU.
UK will return to action on Friday, playing host to No. 1 South Carolina in a three-game Southeastern Conference series, starting at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The Wildcats got on the board in the bottom of the first inning, as Reed tripled to centerfield, with Trevor Lowe’s diving attempt allowing the ball to roll to the wall. Thomas then smashed a two-out RBI single through the left side, giving UK a 1-0 lead. Tom and Wilson then drew walks to load the bases for Carson, who was hit by a 2-2 pitch to force in Thomas. Reida then smashed a first-pitch single through the right side to score Tom and Wilson.
The Toppers got on the board in the top of the third inning, as Leiff Clarkson led off by reaching on a throwing error on a grounder to the left side. Trevor Lowe then singled up the middle, with Reida’s diving stop keeping the ball on the edge of the infield grass. Ryan Church then singled through the right side, scoring Clarkson with an unearned run.
Western Kentucky added a run in the top of the fourth inning, as Ryan Messex doubled down the rightfield line. After a pair of outs, Anderson Miller tripled off the wall in rightfield, allowing Messex to score the second run of the game for WKU.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Wildcats mounted a rally, as Reed drew a walk to start the inning, taking third on Thomas’ double down the leftfield line. After Tom drew a bases-loaded walk with a full count against a left-handed reliever, Wilson smacked a two-RBI single up the middle. Carson then chopped a grounder to the right side, going as a hit with Wilson taking third after the ball was misplayed by the first baseman for an error. After a pair of strikeouts, Cousino drilled a two-out, two-RBI single to leftfield, scoring Wilson and Carson. After Cousino moved to second and stole third, he came around to score on a wild pitch during Reed’s at bat.