LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Junior outfielder Cameron Flynn belted a no-doubt, two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning and No. 16 Kentucky used strong pitching performances from Chandler Shepherd, Alex Phillips, Tim Peterson and Trevor Gott, to post its nation-leading 18th consecutive win, with a 2-1 result over Murray State, on a perfect Wednesday evening at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (18-0) won its 18th consecutive game to open the 2012 season, with the Wildcats leading the NCAA in wins, overall record and longest winning streak. UK is the only undefeated team remaining in college baseball.
The Wildcats now sit just one win shy of equaling the school record for the longest winning streak and the best start to a season. The 2007 and 2008 team’s won its first 19 consecutive games to open the season, setting the school mark.
The win concludes UK’s pre-Southeastern Conference tune ups, with UK hosting two-time defending NCAA Champion, No. 2 South Carolina on SEC-opening weekend at Cliff Hagan Stadium starting Friday.
The Wildcats got all the run production that the pitching staff would need on Flynn’s big blast in the sixth inning. Flynn went 2-for-4 at the plate, with his team-high sixth homer of the year – also belting a homer in the win on Tuesday vs. Wright State. On the year, Flynn has hit .439 (18-for-41) with four doubles and six homers.
Junior outfielder Zac Zellers also added two hits, along with freshman slugger A.J. Reed – who picked up the win on the mound and had three hits, a homer and three RBI in a win Tuesday night. With his two hits, Reed extended his hitting streak to a club-best nine games. Zellers launched a double in the first inning, his fifth of the year. UK also got a hit from senior Thomas McCarthy. UK’s dynamic freshman centerfielder Austin Cousino extended his streak of reaching base safely to 17 consecutive games, each contest of his collegiate career.
The top high school prospect in the state of Kentucky a year ago, Shepherd worked a career-long 5.1 innings, allowing only three hits and one walk, striking out three in his third career start. Phillips (2-0) relieved Shepherd in the sixth inning and UK out of the jam, working 2.1 innings with one hit and one run allowed, striking out one. Peterson came on in the eighth inning, allowing one hit with one out recorded. Despite a ninth-inning error, Gott closed out the game with two strikeouts in the ninth for his third save of the season and his fifth career save.
Murray State (8-8) starter Bryan Babin (1-1) worked six strong innings, allowing seven hits and two runs, no issuing a walk with one strikeout. Closer Luke Shuemaker relieved Babin to start the seventh, working two shutout frames.
UK returns to action with its first Southeastern Conference series of the year, hosting the two-time defending NCAA Champion, No. 2 South Carolina in a three-game series. The series will open on Friday at 7 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. All three games will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with Dick Gabriel calling the action. The Friday (CSS) and Sunday (FSS) games are slated for a live telecast, with Matt Stewart and Rusty Ensor calling the Friday tilt and Larry Conley and South Carolina’s radio voice Andy Demetra calling the action on Sunday.
Kentucky got on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning, as A.J. Reed singled with two outs for Flynn. Flynn pounded a two-out offering over the 30-foot tall rightfield fence for his team-leading sixth homer of the year.
Murray State cut into the UK lead with some two-out hitting in the top of the eighth inning. Leftfielder Ty Stetson singled to rightfield to lead off, scoring after Travis Issak connected on a double into the gap.
GAME NOTES: Junior outfielder Zac Zellers recorded his fifth double of the year in the first inning … A.J. Reed extended his hitting streak to a team-best nine games with a line-drive single in the fourth inning … With a single in the fourth, Cameron Flynn has now reached base safely in 12 consecutive games … Freshman Chandler Shepherd tossed a career-long 5.1 shutout innings, allowing only three hits and one walk … Flynn belted his team-high sixth homer of the year with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning … Trevor Gott recorded his third save of the year and the fifth of his career … Freshman Austin Cousino has now reached base safely in all 17 career collegiate games.
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