HOOVER, Ala. — Kentucky used a relentless offense and good pitching performances from A.J. Reed and Andrew Nelson to beat Alabama 7-1 on Tuesday in the Southeastern Conference Tournament opening round.
The Wildcats (33-22) advance to face top overall seed Florida on Wednesday, when the tournament switches to a double-elimination format. Alabama (34-22) was eliminated, but will still likely earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament when the bracket is announced next week.
It was UK's first elimination-game victory in the SEC Tournament since 1996, snapping a seven-game losing streak in such games.
Pitching on four days' rest, the left-handed Reed (11-2) gave up one run over five innings to earn the win.
"I could definitely feel that I was on short rest," Reed said. "I definitely got tired more quickly that I normally would on a full week. I was just going out there planning on throwing up zeros for five or six innings and hopefully we would have a lead at that time."
Nelson came on to pitch four scoreless innings of relief, giving up just two hits to earn his first save of the year. Storm Wilson, Matt Reida and JaVon Shelby all had two hits for the Wildcats, and Austin Cousino drove in three runs.
Alabama used six pitchers, but few of them could slow the Kentucky offense. Nick Eicholtz (3-3) took the loss, giving up two runs in one inning.
At the plate, Reed went 1-for-3 with a double and two walks. He is batting .358 this season with 15 doubles, an NCAA-leading 23 home runs and 70 RBI.
UK loaded the bases in the second inning. Reed's sacrifice fly scored Thomas Bernal, and Wilson came home on a Cousino grounder.
Alabama scored a run in the third inning, but UK answered with two in the fourth. Cousino's single scored Wilson and Reida, who just beat the throw to the plate with a head-first slide.
UK tacked on two runs in the sixth and one in the eighth. Reed was intentionally walked in the eighth inning for the SEC-leading 15th time this season.
UK Coach Gary Henderson said he will be glad to have a rested bullpen for Wednesday's game against Florida.
"Any time you get five (innings) out of the starter and you can finish it with one guy out of the pen, it's a tremendous lift," Henderson said. "But we'll have to wait and see just how much it helps us tomorrow."
■ Kentucky went 2-1 against Florida during the regular season, including a 17-1 victory in the series opener.
Vanderbilt 3, Tennessee 2: Walker Buehler, a sophomore who starred at Henry Clay, allowed two runs in eight-plus innings to lead Vanderbilt to a win. The Commodores (41-15) advanced to play LSU on Wednesday.
Arkansas 4, Texas A&M 0: Trey Killian and Zach Jackson combined to throw a seven-hit shutout for Arkansas. Arkansas (36-21) advanced to face Mississippi on Wednesday. Killian (4-8) picked up the win Tuesday, throwing six scoreless innings before Jackson shut down the Aggies the rest of the way.