LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Eighth-ranked Kentucky got a multiple-hit game from junior J.T. Riddle to extend his hitting streak to 11 games and junior Trevor Gott struck out all four hitters he faced for his 12th career save, leading the Wildcats to a 6-2 win over Eastern Kentucky, on Wednesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
A native of Frankfort, Ky., Riddle led UK with a two-hit performance to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, adding a walk and two runs scored. The result extended UK’s home-winning streak to seven games, as UK fought through a rain delay for the second consecutive game, with its delay totaling an hour on Wednesday and three hours on Tuesday.
Gott dominated to end the game for his first save of 2013 and his 12th career save, striking out all four hitters he faced. The Lexington native now has moved into a tie for third place for career saves with former UK star southpaw Andrew Albers (2005-08) and is just three saves shy of the UK all-time mark. On the year, Gott has a 2-0 record in three relief outings, tossing five innings, allowing only two hits and one walk, striking out seven. The 2010 Gatorade Kentucky High School Player of the Year out of Tates Creek came on in a bases-loaded jam and two outs in the eighth to face the game-tying run, getting a strikeout to get out of the threat and then fanning the side in the ninth to secure the win.
Kentucky (7-1) also got hits from A.J. Reed, Max Kuhn, Zac Zellers, Matt Reida, Kyle Barrett and Micheal Thomas, with Reida smacking a double and two RBI. Barrett’s hit came as his first career knock, later stealing his first base. Kuhn added a pair of walks and Zellers drew a walk, scored a run and had an RBI. All-America centerfielder Austin Cousino had his team-leading streak of 14 consecutive games reaching base safely snapped with a 0-for-3 game with a sacrifice fly. Cousino has now reached base safely in 66 of 70 career collegiate games.
The 2010 Kentucky High School Mr. Baseball, Riddle upped his robust average to .529 (18-for-34) with his 2-for-3 game, leading the team with 12 runs, adding three doubles, one triple, one homer, eight RBI, a 3-1 walk-strikeout ratio and two steals.
The victory for Kentucky comes a day after the home-opening win over Murray State, an 11-5 result on Tuesday. UK used an efficacious pitching performance from Chandler Shepherd in the win over the ‘Breds, with the sophomore working 5.2 innings in relief without an earned run.
Kentucky freshman starter Ryne Combs worked a career-long 3.1 innings in his first collegiate start, allowing six hits and no runs, walking one and striking out two. Senior Walter Wijas (1-0) replaced him in a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth inning, getting a pair of quick outs to end the inning and working 1.2 innings and allowing a pair of unearned runs. In his four-year career, Wijas has inherited 50 total runners in relief, allowing only 17 to score (34-percent). Freshman Dylan Dwyer took over to start the sixth, working a career-long 2.2 innings, allowing three hits and striking out two. Freshman righty Zach Strecker then came on in a save situation in the eighth and after walking the bases loaded, UK turned to Gott with a 2-2 count and two outs. Gott threw one pitch to get out of the jam and struck out the side in the ninth for his first save of the year.
Eastern Kentucky (3-4) starter Chris Cervantes worked an inning in a predetermined start. Ben Gullo, Trey Salisbury, Blake Bottoms (0-1), Austin Rexroat, Jake Hall, Matt Lynch, Eric Nerl, Cody Creamer and Myles Scott each worked in relief for the Colonels.
UK will return to action for its first home weekend series of the year, hosting Akron in a four-game set, starting on Friday at 4 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky struck first in the game, scoring one run on an RBI single by Kuhn. Riddle started off the inning with a swinging bunt single down the first baseline. After a wild pitch, Riddle advanced to second base and then scored from second after Kuhn hit a single between the shortstop and third baseman.
The Wildcats added four insurance runs in the fourth inning to push the lead to 5-0. Reed started off with a line-drive single to rightfield followed by Riddle getting hit by a pitch. Kuhn loaded the bases when he drew his team-leading eighth walk of the season. The first run of the inning occurred when Reed touched home after Zellers drew a five-pitch walk. Reida drove in two more runs when he smoked a double off the first base bag into rightfield. After Barrett grounded back to the pitcher, Thomas roped a single to the leftfielder that scored Zellers.
In the top of the fifth, EKU got a pair of runs back, as Demetrius Moore led off with a fielding error. Luke Wurzelbacher then singled up the middle and Shaun Ball scored one with a single through the right side and Bryan Soloman forced home a run with a groundout.
Another run came across for Kentucky in the sixth when Barrett tagged up from third on a Cousino fly ball to deep right-centerfield. Barrett slapped his first career hit and followed it up with a stolen base with no one out. Thomas advanced the runner to third and Cousino picked up his sixth RBI of the season.