KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Behind dominating pitching outings from junior Jerad Grundy and senior Alex Phillips, No. 2 Kentucky picked up a 6-2 win over Tennessee to even the series, on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Kentucky (23-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) owned a 5-0 lead when the game was halted due to weather on Saturday with two outs and two runners on in the bottom of the fifth inning. When the game resumed on Sunday at 12 p.m. ET, UK turned to Phillips to replace Grundy, who had turned in a strong start. Phillips allowed the runners to score before getting out of the fifth but shut down the Vols with a career-high 4.1 shutout innings.
Grundy was in the midst of a career outing in the fifth inning when the delay pushed the finish of game two to Sunday. He worked 4.2 innings, allowing only four hits – two infield knocks – with one walk and two strikeouts.
The Wildcats were led by a three-hit outing from sophomore J.T. Riddle, who went 3-for-4 with three RBI, a triple and a homer. UK also got two hits from Thomas McCarthy and Matt Reida, with Reida also drawing a walk. UK also got hits from Luke Maile, A.J. Reed and Michael Williams. Williams hit his second homer of the year in the second inning of the game, but it was ruled a ball in play, going as an RBI single.
Tennessee (13-9, 2-3 SEC) starter Brandon Zajac made his collegiate debut in the game, tossing 2.2 innings, allowing three hits and three runs, walking one. He was relieved by Conner Stevens, who worked 2.1 innings, allowing four hits and two runs, walking two without a strikeout. T.J. Thornton took over after the delay, tossing four innings, allowing three hits and one run, striking out one.
Kentucky got on the board in the second inning, as Reed extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a single to leadoff. After a fielder’s choice erased Reed and put Cameron Flynn on first, McCarthy singled into the gap to push Flynn to third base. Riddle then smacked a grounder off the glove of Zajac up the middle, allowing Flynn to score from third base. Williams then belted his second homer of the year over the leftfield fence, bouncing off the top of the fence and ricocheting off the railing behind the fence. While in his home run trot, the ball was launched back into play after hitting the railing, with Williams tagged out before reaching second base, and McCarthy scoring before the tag. Williams was tagged out on the throw from leftfield, as no signal was made by the three-man umpire crew on the homer until the tag at second base. Williams finished his home run trot without any doubt on his homer, but after a furious reaction from the UK dugout the three-man crew elected to stay with the call on the field, ending the inning.
UK added a run in the third inning taking advantage of a pair of UT errors. Reida drew a walk to leadoff, with Austin Cousino replacing him at first on a fielder’s choice. Zac Zellers then popped up for the second out, with Cousino stealing second and taking third after a botched pickoff attempt at second base during Zellers’ at bat. Maile then hit a slow roller at third base, going as an error and allowing Cousino to score from third.
In the fourth inning, UK continued to add to its lead, as McCarthy led off with a single up the middle. Riddle then homered over the rightfield fence – his first of the year – giving UK a 5-0 lead.
The Vols came out of the delay to start the game with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, with runners on second and third base. UK turned to Phillips to face Will Maddox, who lined a single to centerfield to score the duo and make it 5-2 UK.
Kentucky answered with a run on two hits in the top of the sixth inning, extending its lead to 6-2. Reida led off with a two-strike single off the lefty Thornton. After a Cousion sacrifice bunt, Zellers was plunked by a pitch. Maile followed and smoked a single up the middle to score Reida.
GAME NOTES: Junior southpaw Jerad Grundy made his first career road SEC start … Freshman A.J. Reed extended his hitting streak to a club-long and career-high 15 games with a single in the second inning … J.T. Riddle hit his first homer of the year and the fourth of his career … Zac Zellers was hit by his SEC-leading 11th time in 2012 … Austin Cousino stole his fifth base of the year in five attempts … Zellers was hit by his 12th pitch of the year in the sixth inning … Riddle tripled in the seventh inning for the first time in his two-year career … Alex Phillips worked a career-long 4.1 innings.