Kentucky’s Hot Bats Lead to 19-1 Win at South Carolina
Wildcats record largest SEC win in program history; Hjelle throws six shutout innings
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 6-ranked Kentucky exploded for 19 runs and 20 hits and Sean Hjelle tossed six shutout innings as the Wildcats won at No. 21 South Carolina, 19-1, Friday night.
Beginning in the second inning, UK scored in six straight innings against the top-rated pitching staff in the Southeastern Conference. It was Kentucky’s largest margin of victory against an SEC opponent in school history and the most runs for the Wildcats against an SEC opponent since tallying 22 vs. Mississippi State in 2009.
In the process, Kentucky improved to 30-13 on the season, 13-6 atop the SEC Eastern Division standings. UK also extended a school-record streak of six-straight 30-win seasons and head coach Nick Mingione set a school record for most wins by a UK coach in his first season. South Carolina is now 24-16 overall, 9-10 in league play.
The win ended some losing streaks vs. the Gamecocks. It was UK’s first win in Founders Park after nine straight losses in a facility constructed in 2009. UK had lost 11 in a row in Columbia, dating back to 2008 and 22 of 24 since 2001.
Sophomore rightfielder Tristan Pompey led the Wildcats with four hits and four RBI, including a three-run homer in the fifth inning, his seventh round-tripper of the season. Junior catcher Troy Squires had three singles and drove in three runs. Senior shortstop Connor Heady had three hits and two RBI, including his seventh home run of the season, a solo shot in the seventh. Junior designated hitter Luke Becker entered in the sixth inning and clubbed a pair of home runs, a three-run blast in the seventh inning and a two-run blow in the ninth, his sixth and seventh long balls of the year.
On the mound, sophomore Sean Hjelle tossed six shutout innings, striking out six and allowing only three hits and one walk. He is now 7-2 on the season and leads the Southeastern Conference in victories. Brad Schaenzer pitched two innings and Austin Keen had a shutout ninth frame to complete the contest.
The teams return to action Saturday at 4 p.m. Junior lefthander Zach Logue (5-3, 4.20 ERA) will face South Carolina sophomore right-hander Adam Hill (2-3, 2.36).
Top 2nd – Troy Squires led off with a single to center field. Tyler Marshall hit a line drive off the pitcher’s foot, ricocheting to the first baseman, who made a throwing error trying to get the out at second. Squires advanced to third on a groundout, then scored on a single to left by Connor Heady. UK 1, SC 0.
Top 3rd – Zach Reks reached on an error to lead off the inning. Riley Mahan doubled off the top of the left field wall, moving Reks to third. Squires hit a chopper over the first baseman, scoring Reks and Mahan. Marshall singled to center and Marcus Carson walked to load the bases. Tristan Pompey singled to right, scoring Squires. UK 4, SC 0.
Top 4th – Evan White was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. He advanced to second on a passed ball, to third on a groundout, and scored on a wild pitch. UK 5, SC 0.
Top 5th – With two outs, Carson and Heady singled, followed by a three-run homer to right-center by Pompey. UK 8, SC 0.
Top 6th – Reks and Luke Becker walked to open the inning and they moved up a base on a wild pitch. Reks scored on a single by Mahan, who scampered to second on the throw. Squires singled to left, scoring Becker and moving Mahan to third. Marshall hit a sharp double-play grounder but it allowed Mahan to score. UK 11, SC 0.
Top 7th – Heady led off with a home run to left field. Pompey singled and White doubled him to third. Reks singled, scoring Pompey. Becker hit a three-run homer to right-center. UK 16, SC 0.
Bottom 8th – Justin Row singled to right and came around to score when Ross Grosvenor doubled into the left field corner. UK 16, SC 1.
Top 9th – Reks led off with a walk and Becker followed with his second homer. UK 19, SC 1.
Kentucky will try to win the series at No. 21 South Carolina on Saturday afternoon at Founder Park. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.. Fans can listen on the UK Sports Network via UKathletics.com and iHeart Radio, as well as on 630 AM WLAP, and watch on SECN+.
Official release from UK sports information