LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Senior southpaw Jerad Grundy worked eight two-run innings with 10 strikeouts and A.J. Reed belted a first-inning, two-run homer to lead No. 8 Kentucky to a 3-2 series-evening win over No. 14 Mississippi State in the first game of a doubleheader, on a sunny Saturday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (17-5, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) rebounded from an 8-4 series-opening loss on Friday night to even the series with a 3-2 win in the first game of a doubleheader and set up the rubber match in the finale on Saturday. Due to inclement weather forecast for Sunday, the teams are concluding the series on Saturday afternoon.
Grundy (4-1) worked eight innings, allowed five singles, one homer and two runs, not issuing a walk and striking out 10. The Johnsburg, Ill., native threw first-pitch strikes to 20-of-30 hitters faced, including striking out the side in the second and fourth innings.
Junior Trevor Gott took over in the ninth after a Hunter Renfroe solo homer to leadoff vs. Gott, worked the final three outs for his seventh save of 2013 and the school-record 18th of his career. Gott allowed a single and struck out two to seal the UK win.
UK collected nine hits in the game and drew three walks, with Reed, Zac Zellers and Max Kuhn each totaling two-hit games. Reed belted his sixth homer of the year, a two-run job in the first inning, with Kuhn and Zellers each singling twice. UK also got hits from J.T. Riddle, Kyle Barrett and Matt Reida.
Mississippi State (21-5, 2-3 SEC) starter Kendall Graveman (2-2) worked five innings, allowing seven hits and three runs, walking one and striking out six. Chad Girodo and Ben Bracewell took over for Graveman in the sixth, getting out of the inning. Bracewell worked 2.2 strong innings, allowing one hit and no runs, walking two and striking out four.
The series will conclude later on Saturday, with first pitch 45 minutes following the first game. The game will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with Dick Gabriel calling the action. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com. UK will send junior southpaw Corey Littrell (3-0, 2.84 ERA) to the mound to face junior righty Evan Mitchell (0-1, 2.75 ERA).
After a scoreless first half of the inning for Mississippi State, Reed knocked a two-run home run to give Kentucky an early 2-0 lead. With one out, Zellers singled into rightfield. Reed followed with a blast over the old scoreboard in rightfield, the sophomore’s sixth home run of the year.
The game went scoreless after the first inning until Mississippi State scored its first run of the afternoon in the top of the sixth. Adam Frazier singled with one out to open the inning and C.T. Bradford followed with a single into rightfield, advancing Frazier to third. Frazier was able to tag and score on a Hunter Renfroe fly out into centerfield.
Kentucky matched Mississippi State’s run in the top half of the inning, going up 3-1 through six. Zellers led off the inning with a single into left field. Reed followed with a double into left center, giving Kentucky runners on first and second. A single from Kuhn brought home Zellers.
Renfroe led off the inning with a solo home run over the leftfield wall, his second homer of the series. The solo shot brought the score to 3-1, forcing UK to bring Gott in to close the game. Gott struck out the first batter he faced but Demarcus Henderson reached on an infield single, before the UK junior closed the door.
GAME NOTES: Junior J.T. Riddle made his team-leading 88th consecutive start … Zac Zellers extended his hitting streak to five games … A.J. Reed hit his sixth homer of the year … Max Kuhn doubled for the team-leading seventh time in 2013 … Kuhn has reached base safely in 21 of 22 games this year … UK hit its third homer in the first inning … Reed extended his hitting streak to eight games with the first-inning homer … A steal from MSU in the fifth snapped a streak of 176 consecutive plate appearances without UK allowing a stolen base and was just the third steal in the last 582 plate appearances … Matt Reida recorded his fifth two-out hit of the year … Reed doubled for the fourth time of 2013 in the sixth … Jerad Grundy struck out 10, his second 10+ strikeout outing of the year … Grundy worked his fifth quality start of the year and the 11th of his two-year UK career … Riddle was hit by his fifth pitch of the year in the eighth … Trevor Gott made his team-high 11th appearance of the year … Gott recorded his school-record 18th career save and his seventh of the year … Gott’s seven saves are just two shy of his own single-season record and ties him for fourth place in UK season history … UK is now 5-1 in Grundy’s 2013 starts … UK improved to 5-1 in 2013 when Reed homers … UK is now 3-2 in blue and white uniforms … UK improved to 7-0 when scoring in the first inning and 14-1 when scoring first … UK is now 16-2 in day games … UK trails the all-time series with Mississippi State, 56-32, including an 18-17 mark in games played in Lexington.