From UK Athletics
Offense gets to top Texas A&M starter, defense stellar in road victory
College Station, Texas – Sean Hjelle turned in a dominant complete game shutout effort on the mound and the offense rode the momentum of a first-inning Tristan Pompey home run to push Kentucky to a 6-0 victory over No. 22 Texas A&M in front of 5,242 fans at Blue Bell Park on opening night in the Southeastern Conference.
Hjelle gave up just four hits and one run while striking out a career-high nine, going to just three three-ball counts the entire night. It was the Wildcats’ first complete game shutout since Dustin Beggs blanked South Carolina on May 7, 2016.
“That was a team effort,” Hjelle said. “We don’t win that game with our offense and defense. (Pompey) hits that first-inning home run, which was just awesome. Marcus Carson and Zach Reks were laying out for balls all night. Just a really good team win.”
While Hjelle (3-1) was rolling on the mound, the Cats’ offense gained confidence after Pompey took Texas A&M’s top starter, Brigham Hill, out to straightaway centerfield, clearing the 400-foot sign and slamming off the batter’s eye. The Cats (13-6, 1-0 SEC) added a second run in the third and three in the sixth on Troy Squires’ RBI single and Tyler Marshall’s two-run double. Marshall later added a perfectly executed squeeze bunt and finished with a career-high three RBI.
Not to be outdone, the Cats’ defense was stellar as well. Marcus Carson made a pair of running catches on the warning track and Zach Reks ended the Aggies’ eighth inning with a diving grab in left-center field with a runner on base.
The win was UK’s first in an SEC road game since winning at LSU in 2007, and the first time Texas A&M had been shutout in SEC play since the 2014 SEC Tournament.
Top 1st – Tristan Pompey homered over the 400-foot sign in straightaway CF. UK 1, TAMU 0.
Top 3rd – Tyler Marshall singled to LF and advanced to second on Connor Heady’s sacrifice bunt. Zach Reks’ two-out single to LF scored Marshall. UK 2, TAMU 0.
Top 6th – Riley Mahan reached on a fielder’s choice, moved to second when Kole Cottam was hit by a pitch and scored on Troy Squires’ single to RF. Marshall followed with a two-run double inside the 3B bag, scoring Cottam and Squires. UK 5, TAMU 0.
Top 8th – Cottam singled to left and took second when the left fielder misplayed the ball. Zeke Lewis pinch ran for Cottam and moved to third on Squires’ SAC bunt. Marshall continued his big night with a perfect squeeze bunt to score Lewis. UK 6, TAMU 0.
- Sophomore RHP Sean Hjelle pitched a nine-inning, complete game shutout.
o It was UK’s first nine-inning complete game shutout since Dustin Beggs blanked South Carolina on May 7, 2016.
o Hjelle struck out a career-high nine.
o It was the longest outing of his career, besting the 7.1 innings he threw against UC Santa Barbara on March 3, 2017.
o His 117 pitches were a career high.
o He went to three-ball counts just three times.
- Sophomore OF Tristan Pompey’s home run in the first inning extended his career-long hitting streak to eight games.
o The home run was his first of the season and eighth of his career.
- Junior IF Tyler Marshall singled in the third inning to extend his career-long hitting streak to five games.
o Marshall knocked in a career-high three runs with a two-run double in the sixth and squeeze bunt in the eighth.
- UK has given up two or fewer runs in nine of the past 12 games.
Kentucky will try to win its opening SEC series on Saturday against Texas A&M at Blue Bell Park. First pitch on Saturday is slated for 3 p.m. and will aired on SECN+. Fans can listen on the UK Sports Network via UKathletics.com and iHeart Radio or 630 AM WLAP in the Lexington area.