The University of Kentucky baseball team took on the toughest test it could for its season opener on Friday.
In beating the No. 1 team in the nation, the Wildcats passed with flying colors.
"Our kids had a lot of heart and a lot of spirit and a lot of fight," UK Coach Gary Henderson said. "It was fun to watch, boy, really impressed."
Junior left-hander A.J. Reed pitched five strong innings, and the Wildcats put together a four-run fourth inning to beat Virginia 8-3 in the Hughes Brothers Challenge at Wilmington, N.C.
Eight different batters drove in Kentucky's eight runs as the Cats overcame an early 1-0 deficit. Austin Cousino, Max Kuhn and Thomas Bernal had two hits apiece to pace Kentucky's 11-hit attack.
The Cavaliers had base-runners in every inning but were limited to five hits while leaving 11 runners on base. Virginia was 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
Reed started and worked the five innings for the Cats, giving up a run, three hits and three walks while striking out two to pick up the win. Ryne Combs, a sophomore lefty from Bryan Station, allowed two runs over 32⁄3 innings, and sophomore right-hander Zach Strecker whiffed the game's final batter.
Virginia starting pitcher Brandon Waddell allowed six earned runs, seven hits and one walk while striking out seven in 41⁄3 innings.
UK sent eight men to the plate during its four-run fourth. Kuhn and Reed hit back-to-back doubles to start the inning and tie the game. A Matt Reida groundout pushed across a run, and freshmen JaVon Shelby (Tates Creek) and Connor Heady followed with a run-scoring single and double for a 4-1 lead.
The Cats scored two more runs in the fifth on an RBI double by Kuhn and a run-scoring single by Bernal.
Kentucky 8, VIRGINIA 3
Virginia 010 000 002—3 5 0
Kentucky 000 420 11x—8 11 2
Waddell, Jones (5), Tekker (8), Lisle (9) and Irving; Reed, Combs (6), Strecker (9) and Thomas. W—Reed (1-0). L—Waddell (0-1). 2B—Downes (V), Howard (V), Cousino (K), Kuhn 2 (K), Reed (K), Thomas (K), Heady (K).