COUSINO SPARKS NO. 11 UK TO SCHOOL-RECORD 44TH WIN
Wildcats Advance in NCAA Gary Regional, Facing Loser of Purdue vs. Kent State
GARY, Ind. -- Freshman
centerfielder Austin Cousino collected three hits and three RBI,
including a two-RBI double off the centerfield wall in a five-run sixth
inning, to lead No. 11 Kentucky to an 8-1 win over Valparaiso in the
second round of the NCAA Gary Regional, on a sunny Saturday afternoon
at U.S. Steel Yard.
Kentucky (44-17) has now tied the 2006
(44-17) and 2008 (44-19) school-record of 44 wins with the elimination
game win over Valparaiso. Just hours after playing the second-longest
game in the history of the NCAA Tournament – a 21-inning marathon 7-6
loss to Kent State on Friday night – the Wildcats took the field to
face Valpo. After the teams traded runs in the fourth inning, UK
exploded for five runs in the top of the fifth inning to take a lead,
including Cousino’s two-RBI double and his steal of home.
Wildcats will now advance to Sunday to face the loser of the Purdue vs.
Kent State game, set for 8 p.m. ET on Saturday night. The 4 p.m. ET
game with UK on Sunday will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio
Network, available in Central Kentucky on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on
WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com. If UK is playing Purdue in
any games at the Gary Regional, it will be televised live on the Big
UK will start all-conference southpaw Corey
Littrell (8-2, 2.66 ERA) in the game on Sunday. In order to advance to
the Monday if-necessary game, UK would have to post a win in the opener
and a win in the finale on Sunday.
The 2012 Southeastern
Conference Freshman of the Year, Cousino led UK at the top of the order
for an injury and exhaustion-depleted UK team following the 21-inning
affair on Friday night. The Dublin, Ohio, native went 3-for-5 with a
double, three RBI and a steal of home plate. Shortstop Matt Reida also
collected two hits and two RBI, while senior backstop Michael Williams
– who has caught all 30 innings of UK’s two games – added an RBI knock.
hitter in the UK lineup had a hit, with Thomas McCarthy, A.J. Reed,
Cameron Flynn, Zac Zellers, J.T. Riddle and Paul McConkey delivering
clutch hits. Zellers added his first career two steal game, also
drawing a walk, while Riddle bounced back from an 0-for-9 game in the
opener to deliver a clutch double in the sixth. UK was without All-SEC
catcher Luke Maile and sophomore outfielder Lucas Witt due to injuries
suffered on Friday night in the 21-inning game, with Reed pitching nine
innings in relief and making him unavailable on the mound.
starter Jerad Grundy (6-3) worked six innings, allowing five hits and
one run, walking four and striking out six. Freshman Chandler Shepherd
came on with UK needing to preserve its bullpen after staffing 17.2
innings in relief on Friday night. Shepherd picked up his first career
save with three shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out
two. Grundy, a native of Johnsburg, Ill., tossed his sixth quality
start and his second consecutive dominating outing, also striking out a
career-high nine in a win over No. 21 Mississippi State last week in
the SEC Tournament.
Valparaiso (35-25) starter Kevin Wild
(6-4) – the 2012 Horizon League Pitcher of the Year – worked 5.2
innings, allowing 10 hits and six runs – five earned walking two and
striking out three. Jarad Miller worked 1.1 innings, not allowing a hit
and recording a walk and strikeout. Sean Kennedy and Kyle Wormington
each worked an inning with a run allowed.
the first two batters of the game, Wild surrendered the first hit of
the game to Reed but Wild didn’t allow the two-out hit to cause any
damage, striking out the final out of the inning. Grundy took the mound
for the Wildcats in the bottom half of the inning and retired the side
in order, including striking out two. The quick first inning would go
scoreless as the game headed into the second at 0-0.
managed to get Zellers to third in the top of the second but wasn’t
able to bring him home for the first run of the game. Zellers earned a
free pass on balls before stealing second with one out. With two outs,
Zellers took third on a wild pitch but was stranded following a fly out
Grundy allowed his first hit of the game
in the bottom of the second, a one-out single through the right side
for John Loeffler. Reida erased Loffeld’s single with a 6-3 double
play, fielding a groundball up the middle before stepping on second and
gunning Martin at first.
Cousino tallied his first hit of
the day in the top of the third, a one-out infield single up the middle
but his hit was erased with an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play.
let a pitch slip against Spencer Mahoney, plunking the Valpo leadoff
batter in the bottom of the third. With Mahoney on first, Grundy struck
out the first and forced an infield pop out to record the first two
outs of the inning. A base hit through the left side put runners on
first and second with two outs but Grundy forced a fly out to Cousino
in centerfield to leave two stranded and keep the game scoreless.
Wildcats placed a runner on third in the top of the fourth after
Williams knocked a one-out single into centerfield. Flynn’s single
through the right side gave Kentucky runners on first and second with
one out. Consecutive groundouts ended the Wildcats’ threat, leaving two
runners stranded and keeping Kentucky scoreless.
Manning led Valpo off in the bottom of the fourth with a base on balls
but was picked off by Grundy trying to take second early. Grundy struck
out the final two outs of the inning, his fourth and fifth of the
Kentucky was the first to put a run on the
scoreboard, taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth. McConkey led off
the Wildcats with a single through the left side before advancing to
second on a sacrifice bunt from Reida. Cousino stepped up and drove
McConkey in with a single into rightfield. Wild held the damage at one
run, forcing a groundout and strikeout to end the top of the fifth.
Crusaders matched Kentucky in the bottom half of the inning, bringing
across a run of their own. With the help of shortstop Reida, Grundy
retired the first two batters of the bottom of the fifth on groundouts
to short but Valpo converted on a two-out rally. Fueled by three
consecutive two-out singles, the Crusaders brought a run across to tie
the game at 1-1 through five.
Following a quick two outs
in the top of the sixth, Kentucky’s offense erupted with a two-out
rally that featured two singles and two doubles. Zellers started the
rally with a single into left center and Riddle’s double down the
rightfield line scored Zellers from first. McConkey walked to put
runners on first and second before Reida drilled a ball into rightfield
to bring Riddle home from second. With two on, Cousino crushed a ball
off the wall in dead centerfield, scoring McConkey and Reida, with
Cousino advancing to third on the throw home. Kentucky converted on a
double steal, McCarthy taking second and Cousino crossing the plate on
the throw to second. McCarthy was gunned down trying to take third on
the throw back to the plate but the damage was already done as the
Wildcats had plated five runners in the top of the sixth and taken a
Taking the mound with a comfortable lead, Grundy
walked two in the bottom of the sixth but didn’t let the runners cause
any damage, leaving two stranded and the Crusaders scoreless in the
With Miller on the mound for Valpo, the
Wildcats went down in order in the top of the seventh. Shepherd took
the hill for Kentucky in the bottom of the seventh and shut down Valpo
in the bottom half.
Kennedy took the mound for Valpo in
the top of the eighth, retiring the first out of the inning. Riddle
laid down a bunt down the left side to reach first before stealing
second with two outs. Reida rolled a slow groundball toward the Valpo
second baseman, reaching safely for an RBI single. Riddle was stealing
on the pitch and able to score from second on the slow roller. Kennedy
forced a groundout to end the inning but Kentucky increased the lead to
7-1 through seven and a half.
Shepherd came back out for Kentucky, sitting down the Valpo batters in order in the bottom of the eighth.
led off for the Wildcats in the top half of the ninth inning, knocking
a double into left center, his 20th of the year. Reed grounded out up
the middle for the first out of the inning, advancing McCarthy to
third. Williams smoked a groundball to third that was misplayed,
reaching first on an error and allowing McCarthy to come across to
increase the lead to 8-1.
Shepherd came out in the bottom
of the ninth to finish off the three-inning save effort but dealt with
some trouble early. Mahoney led off with a double deep into left
center. Shepherd forced pinch-hitter Johnson into a groundout to first,
moving Mahoney over to third. A fly out to left field and strikeout
closed the game for Kentucky, stranding Mahoney on third and claiming
the 8-1 victory for the Wildcats.
GAME NOTES: Kentucky
turned its 48th double play of the year in the first inning and its
49th to end the second frame … Zac Zellers stole his sixth and seventh
bases of 2012, his first career two steal game … Jerad Grundy picked
off his third of the year and UK’s SEC-leading 20th … J.T. Riddle
doubled for the 12th time … Matt Reida who recorded his 10th two-out
RBI … Austin Cousino doubled off the wall in centerfield, his team-high
20th double of the year … Cousino stole home for his 14th steal of the
year … Thomas McCarthy stole his fourth base as part of the double
steal with Cousino stealing home … Riddle stole his third base of the
year in the eighth inning … McCarthy doubled for the 20th time …
McCarthy and Cousino are now tied for the 11th most double in UK
single-season history … Grundy worked his sixth quality start of the
year … Chandler Shepherd recorded his first career save … UK has now
equaled the school record, set in 2006 (44-17) and 2008 (44-19), for
wins in a season … UK has shattered the school record for saves in a
season (21), with a total of six UK players recording a save in 2012 …
UK now owns a 36-6 record in day games and an 8-2 record in blue
jerseys and gray pants … UK is 11-13 in NCAA Tournament play in its
seven all-time appearances.