LEXINGTON, Ky. - Centerfielder Austin Cousino went 3-for-4 with two steals and rightfielder Kyle Barrett belted his first career home run to lead No. 30 Kentucky to a 7-1 win over Wright State in the 2014 home opener, on Tuesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (6-2) opened up its home schedule with a six-run win, as the Wildcats mounted two-run rallies in the first, second and fourth innings, adding a run in the seventh, with WSU getting a run in the first on two walks and two balks.
The Wildcats got a three-hit game from Cousino, a third-team preseason All-America selection by Baseball America, who also stole two bases and had a double.
Sophomore Kyle Barrett – a 2013 All-Southeastern Conference Freshman Team selection – belted his first career homer in the fourth inning, coming in his 179th career at-bat.
UK also got a two-hit game from third baseman Max Kuhn, with Micheal Thomas drawing two walks and going 1-for-3 with an RBI double. Thomas Bernal added a single and a walk, with second baseman Connor Heady drawing a walk and scoring once.
A.J. Reed – the reigning SEC Player of the Week and Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week – extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a 1-for-3 game with two walks. A first-team preseason All-American and a member of the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List, Reed was coming off a historic three-game weekend that saw him belt five homers and drive in 11 RBI, in addition to working seven, one-run innings on the mound Friday.
UK sophomore starter Dylan Dwyer worked three innings in his second career start, allowing two hits and one run, walking three and striking out two.
Junior Andrew Nelson took over to start the fourth, working a shutout frame and around a single. Freshman lefty Logan Salow (1-0) picked up his first career win with a shutout inning in the fifth. Freshmen Zack Brown and Robert Zeigler each worked shutout innings in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively. Junior Spencer Jack stretched his scoreless innings and shutout streak to six innings and four outings, with sophomore Zach Strecker working a perfect ninth inning.
“What I saw was five guys that are new to the program and I need to keep running them out there,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said about the five newcomers pitching an inning each. “We need to get them comfortable. You are going to keep running them out there as long as the keep throwing up zeros.”
Wright State (2-5) senior Taylor Braun (0-1) made the start, allowing a walk and two hits before the second hit he allowed bounced off his torso, ending his start due to potential injury. Lefty Darion Nunn replaced him to work three innings, allowing four hits and two runs, walking one and striking out three. WSU also used E.J. Trapino, Jacob Burk, Logan Blair, Issac Beller and Andrew Elliott in relief.
Kentucky will return to action on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium, hosting Dayton.
Wright State got on the board first, as Kieston Greene drew a walk to lead off, scoring after a pair of balks.
Kentucky answered in the bottom of the first. Barrett got on base with a leadoff walk. Cousino then followed with a double to left-centerfield, scoring Barrett. Kuhn then singled up the middle, off the starting pitcher, scoring Cousino from second, giving UK a 2-1 after the first.
UK added to its lead in the third inning beginning with Cousino reaching on an infield single. Kuhn singled to left, and after an error, Cousino motored home. Thomas then doubled off the wall in right center to score Kuhn making it a 4-1 UK lead.
In the fourth, Heady lead off the inning with a walk and Barrett then belted his first career home run to give Kentucky a 6-1 advantage.
“It felt great,” Barrett said about his homer. “It is not my job (to hit homers) but running into one every now and then feels good. I usually just get on base and let the guys behind me hit me in.”
Adding on in the seventh inning, Thomas drew a walk to get on base to leadoff. Bernal singled to left and eventually advanced to second after a fielding error, allowing Cousino to score for the final margin, 7-1.