Missouri moved one step closer to a spot in next week's Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament with a 4-2 victory over Kentucky on Thursday night in Columbia, Mo.
The Tigers (17-30 overall, 9-19 SEC) took a two-game lead over Tennessee in the race for the 12th and final spot in the tournament with two games left to play.
The Wildcats (29-23, 10-18) are assured a berth in the SEC Tournament at Hoover, Ala., but are clinging to the No. 11 seed with games remaining Friday and Saturday against the Tigers.
Missouri got two runs in the third inning and added single runs in the fourth and fifth to chase UK left-hander A.J. Reed on Thursday night.
Reed (2-8) worked 4 1/3 innings, allowing nine hits and four runs while walking two. Sophomore Chandler Shepherd came on in relief to retire all 11 hitters he faced, throwing just four balls in 31 pitches.
Missouri starter Brett Graves (2-5) pitched five innings, allowing three hits and two runs, walking five and striking out three. Lefty Jake Walsh worked two shutout innings, allowing just one UK hit. Keaton Steele took over to start the eighth, picking up his first save of the year with two shutout innings.
UK scored its first run in the fourth, as Austin Cousino singled to center field with two outs, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Paul McConkey’s single. In the fifth, Kyle Barrett led off with a perfect bunt single down the third-base line. After a Zac Zellers sacrifice and a passed ball pushed Barrett to third base, J.T. Riddle scored him with a grounder to the right side.
The series will resume on Friday at 7 p.m. EDT at Taylor Stadium.