News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

April 12, 2014

TH’s Reed stars for UK, but gets no-decision

Shines at plate with mammoth home run

LEXINGTON, Ky. — All of the elements that have made Kentucky’s A.J. Reed — a Terre Haute native — one of college baseball’s best players were on display Friday as the Wildcats played a Southeastern Conference game against Missouri.

The rub? The visiting Tigers were able to get to Reed in drips and drabs and enjoyed a three-run lead as late as the seventh inning at UK’s Cliff Hagan Field.

But as SEC foes have learned all season, if you threaten to beat Reed on the mound, he can just as easily beat you at the plate, and Reed’s offense went a long way toward putting his team in position for a victory. Reed provided the fuel for a five-run seventh inning that put the Wildcats in front.

Reed was 3 for 5, including a mammoth home run to right field. Alas, UK couldn’t hold the lead as Missouri scored three in the eighth inning and won 8-7.

Reed continued to show why he is college baseball’s biggest phenom of the season and one of its most unique in any recent season. He’s also rising up the list of baseball greats who got their careers started in Terre Haute.

As he did during a stellar career at Terre Haute South, Reed has been a dual threat for the Wildcats on the mound and at the plate. Entering Friday’s contest, Reed led the SEC in slugging (.771), on-base percentage (.500), home runs (12), RBI (41), total bases (71) and victories (6) in his pitching role.

Reed is an All-American and was Perfect Game USA’s national mid-season player of the year.

On Friday, Reed piled on more numbers. He had four RBI — he knocked in UK’s first four runs. His solo home run in the fourth was one for the highlight reel. He crushed it off one of the light standards beyond the right-field fence. The ball caromed hard high off the aluminum tower.

Reed was also outstanding in spurts on the mound as well. Utilizing his pitching power in equal measure with his control, Reed struck out a career-high 10 Tigers in seven innings of work. He had just one walk.

“Tonight was my best night command-wise with my pitches. Tonight was a step forward and it was progress,” Reed said.

Reed’s command was reflected in the five strikeouts looking he recorded against the Tigers.

“I’m not really known as a strikeout pitcher. I just felt like my fastball was going wherever it wanted. When you get that, you feel free out there and you feel you can use both sides of the plate. I froze them on a couple,” Reed said.

But Missouri frustrated Reed too. He retired the Tigers in order just once. He gave up four runs, three of which came with two outs. The other was a solo home run hit by Missouri’s Dylan Kelly in the third inning. At the end of the fifth, the Tigers led 5-2.

“Missouri had an inordinate amount of soft contact fall in early in front of our outfielders. Sometimes the game is hard that way. I thought he battled really well,” UK coach Gary Henderson said.

But Reed was a major catalyst in what should have been the Wildcats’ go-ahead frame. The bases were loaded for him in the seventh with no outs. Reed hit a sharp grounder to first base. It took a bad hop over Missouri first baseman Kendall Keaton and bounced into right field, scoring two runs. Kentucky would score three more in the inning to take a 7-5 lead.

Reed, however, was saddled with the no-decision as Missouri rallied for three in the eighth inning.

Reed will likely start as either the designated hitter or first baseman against Missouri today.

 

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