In one of the most anticipated non-conference series of the season, No. 6 Kentucky erased an early deficit and stormed past No. 3 Texas Tech with a 10-7 victory to take round one in the battle of heavyweights at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The Wildcats moved to 13-2 on the season and 3-0 versus ranked teams in handing Texas Tech (14-1) its first loss of the season.
Junior Kole Cottam launched a 413-foot two-run home run to give the Cats some momentum after falling behind 3-0 in the first and a two-out, two-run double in the fifth on his way to a career-high-tying four RBI. It was Cottam’s fifth home run of the season and set the tone for the Cats’ comeback against Texas Tech starter Davis Martin (0.60 ERA entering the game) and reliever Ty Harpenau (one hit allowed in nine innings this season).
Tristan Pompey, starting for the first time since Feb. 20 due to injury, delivered an RBI double off the let-centerfield wall in the eighth inning to spur a two-out rally that tacked on three insurance runs. Those runs would prove important as the Red Raiders scored three in the ninth and had the tying run at the plate before Zach Haake and Chris Machamer struck out the final two hitters of the game to close the door.
Although it didn’t start particularly well for UK junior right-hander Sean Hjelle, the 6-foot-11 ace ultimately spun another gem to move to 4-0 on the season and earn his 19th career victory. Hjelle limited the damage in the first inning and didn’t allow another run, retiring the last 10 batters he faced. Hjelle’s final line of 7.0 innings, five hits, three runs (two earned), one walk and six strikeouts was yet another impressive outing.
The two teams will return to the field Saturday at 1 p.m. with the game set to be streamed on SECN+.
Top 1st – Gabe Holt reached on an error and advanced to third on Kurt Wilson’s hit and run single. Josh Jung doubled inside the first base bag to score Holt and Wilson. Jung advanced to third on the throw. Cameron Warren singled to RF, scoring Jung. Texas Tech 3, UK 0.
Bottom 2nd – Luke Becker singled over the 2B bag. Kole Cottam homered to LF. Texas Tech 3, UK 2.
Bottom 3rd – Troy Squires doubled to RF, advanced to third on a balk and scored on a wild pitch. UK 3, Texas Tech 3.
Bottom 5th – Ben Aklinski and Tristan Pompey walked. Becker was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Luke Heyer hit a SAC fly to RF, scoring Aklinski and moving the other runners up. Cottam doubled to RF, scoring Pompey and Becker. UK 6, Texas Tech 3.
Bottom 6th – Trey Dawson walked and Aklinski was hit by a pitch. Pompey flied out to CF with both runners moving up. Becker hit an infield single to 3B, scoring Dawson and moving Aklinski to third. UK 7, Texas Tech 3.
Top 8th – Gabe Holt walked, stole second and advanced to third on throwing error. Jung had infield single, scoring Holt. UK 7, Texas Tech 4.
Bottom 8th – Aklinski walked. Pompey doubled off the LCF wall, scoring Aklinski. Becker was hit by a pitch and Heyer walked to load the bases. T.J. Collett walked to score Pompey. A wild pitch on the walk allowed Becker to score from second. UK 10, Texas Tech 4.
Top 9th – Zach Rheams walked. Cody Masters hit by pitch. John McMillon singled to RF to load the bases. Gabe Holt reach on a fielding error by the 2B, scoring Rheams. Michael Davis singled to RF, scoring McMillon and Masters. UK 10, Texas Tech 7.
· Kentucky is now 3-0 against ranked opponents this season.
o The Cats have 20 wins vs. ranked teams the past two seasons.
o The Cats have five wins vs. Top 10 teams during that span.
· The Cats drew eight walks and were hit by five pitches in the game.
· The offense has …
o Hit a home run in all 15 games this season.
o Scored 109 runs in the past 10 games.
o Recorded 78 extra base hits this season.
o Scored 63 runs on 68 hits in the past six games.
· Junior RHP Sean Hjelle went 7.0 innings, giving up five hits, three runs (two earned), one walk and striking out six.
o Hjelle is now 4-0 on the season.
o His 19 career wins tie him with Golden Spikes Award winner AJ Reed for 10th on UK’s career list.
o Hjelle is 19-5 in his career for a .792 winning percentage. He ranks this on UK’s career winning percentage list.
· Junior C/1B Kole Cottam went 2-for-4 with a run, a double, a home run and four RBI.
o The four RBI tied his career high.
o It was Cottam’s sixth multi-RBI game of the season and 21st career.
o Cottam now has six multi-hit games this season and 32 in his career.
· Senior C/1B Troy Squires had a double and a run.
o Squires has reached base safely in all 15 games this season.
· Senior INF Luke Becker went 2-for-2 with three runs, an RBI, two HBPs and two steals.
o He has reached base safely streak to all 15 games this season.
o Becker now has four multi-hit games this season and 31 in his career.
· Junior OF Tristan Pompey went 1-for-4 with two runs, an RBI and a double.
o Pompey has now reached base in 46 of the past 47 games.
Game two of the series is Saturday with first pitch set for 4 p.m. and it will be aired on SECN+ and 98.5 FM Lexington.
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