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By Joshua Huff
Tennessee Tech soared into Cliff Hagan Stadium on Tuesday but left with clipped wings as UK baseball rallied to top the nation’s No. 1 offense, 15-13.
No. 17 UK (27-14, 9-9 SEC) battled back from a slow start offensively and overcame a six-run deficit, despite the Golden Eagles’ seven home runs and a rough start by UK’s freshmen pitchers. The two teams combined to hit 10 home runs.
Freshman Zack Brown gave up the first home run in his short career at UK in the second inning, and the Golden Eagles jumped to a 1-0 lead.
UK responded in the bottom of the inning, as senior Matt Reida broke a 0-for-11 hitless streak by hitting a double to left. Junior Austin Cousino then smacked a sacrifice line-drive to center, tying the game at one.
Golden Eagles seniors Zach Stephens and Daniel Miles hit back-to-back home runs in the third inning to give Tennessee Tech a 3-1 advantage. Jordan Parris joined the home run club by belting his own in the fourth off of reliever freshman Robert Zeigler.
Brown and Zeigler combined for 3.2 innings, allowing six hits and four home runs.
Sophomore Zach Strecker replaced Zeigler and immediately gave up a RBI double and another home run to Miles. Strecker would calm down, allowing only two runs off three hits in 2.1 innings.
The Cats chipped away at the six-run deficit in the fifth inning, scoring three runs as Tennessee Tech walked three, hit one and allowed two singles in an inning when the Cats sent nine batters to the plate.
UK finally broke through in the sixth inning, scoring two runs off a Reida hit to give UK its first lead in the game. Javon Shelby and juniors Max Kuhn and A.J. Reed padded the Cats lead, each scoring a run in a five-run sixth inning, with UK stretching its lead to four.
Reida continued his sizzling performance with a solo home run in the seventh. He ended the game 4-for-4 with four RBIs and two doubles. The home run was the first since his sophomore season.
Down four heading into the eighth, Tennessee Tech roared back to tie the game at 12.
With their backs to the wall, UK countered with a senior Micheal Thomas two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth that propelled the Cats to a hard-fought victory.