Kentucky hoping offensive burst continues in SEC

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Southeastern Conference play hasn't begun, so it's too early to know if Kentucky will remain the offensive juggernaut it's been the first month of the season.

Wildcats fans have to like the trend.

This past weekend, the Wildcats scored at a clip unprecedented in the 105-year history of their baseball program. They followed a 24-1 win over Ball State on Saturday with a 26-3 victory on Sunday. Those outbursts followed a 10-8, 10-inning loss to the Cardinals on Friday.

That's 58 runs for the Wildcats (13-3), with Michael Thomas driving in 13 of them.

"We've had a couple of good days at the plate," Wildcats coach Gary Henderson understated.

It's quite a change from last season, when the Wildcats were one of the worst offensive teams in the SEC with a .255 batting average and 5.1 runs a game. Those numbers were .234 and 3.8 in SEC games.

Kentucky scored 76 runs in five games last week, batting .385 with 24 extra-base hits, nine stolen bases, 17 hit batsmen and a .504 on-base percentage.

The Wildcats have risen as high as No. 18 in this week's national polls and are in the top three in 12 of 13 offensive categories in the SEC. They're averaging 11.4 runs a game and batting .345 with 45 doubles and 14 homers.

A.J. Reed, who shares the national lead with eight homers, is batting .436 and is first nationally with 28 RBIs. Reed is on an 18-game hitting streak along with Kyle Barrett. Austin Cousino leads the Wildcats with a .443 batting average.

The Wildcats play mid-week games at Indiana and against Northern Kentucky before traveling to Alabama this weekend for their first conference series.

Here's a look around college baseball:

NO-HIT PARADE: Four no-hitters were thrown in Division I last week. Saturday, Oregon State's Jace Fry struck out a career-high 10 against Northern Illinois, and Alabama's Justin Kamplain, Jay Shaw and Geoffrey Bramblett combined against Mississippi Valley State for the Tide's first nine-inning no-hitter since 1942. Miami's Javi Salas pitched a perfect game against Villanova last Tuesday, and two days later BYU's Kolton Mahoney no-hit Nicholls State.

NASTY NOLA: LSU's Aaron Nola continues to be the nation's most dominant pitcher, having gone 53 innings without allowing an earned run. He struck out a career-high 12 and allowed two hits in eight innings in a 10-0 win over Purdue on Friday, raising his record to 4-0. "It's getting tough to find words to describe how great Aaron Nola is," Tigers coach Paul Mainieri said.

BRUINS STOP SLIDE: Defending national champion UCLA (7-7) lost three straight before beating rival Southern California 6-5 Sunday. Christoph Bono's single in the top of the ninth drove in the go-ahead run and helped the Bruins avoid a fourth loss in a row for the first time since 2009.

INJURED PITCHERS: Two big-name pitchers are out for the season because of injuries. Rice ace Jordan Stephens will have Tommy surgery and Indiana closer Ryan Halstead has a torn ACL. Stephens took himself out of the game after two innings against Texas because of arm soreness on Feb. 28. Halstead injured his knee while fielding a ground ball against Xavier last Wednesday.

NC STATE SHUTOUT STREAK: North Carolina State heads into this weekend's big series at Florida State off some stellar pitching performances. The Wolfpack combined to shut out Notre Dame for the last 21 innings of a three-game sweep. Ace Carlos Rodon, the top prospect for the draft, has 30 strikeouts in 30 innings but has been beaten twice. However, Logan Jernigan is 3-0 with a 0.73 ERA and Brad Stone is 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA.

RED RAIDERS RIDING HIGH: Texas Tech is off to a 14-3 start, its best since 2005, after winning six in a row. The Red Raiders swept New Mexico State over the weekend and have won 12 straight home games for the first time since 2002.

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