LEXINGTON, Ky. — Zack Brown pitched seven innings, allowing just two runs, and No. 13 Kentucky used a three-run sixth inning to post a 3-2 win over Alabama to open the three-game series, on a rainy Friday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Trailing by two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Kentucky plated three runs to stake Brown to a one-run lead. It marks the first Friday night UK has won in Southeastern Conference play, as UK has won the final two games of the series in each weekend.
A native of Seymour, Ind., Brown (2-5) worked seven innings in his second quality start of the year, exiting with a one-run lead after throwing 85 pitches. Brown worked seven innings, allowing six hits and two runs, walking one and striking out three. Zach Strecker took over to start the eighth, tossing a perfect inning to stretch his scoreless streak to 18.2 consecutive shutout innings.
Freshman 6-foot-11 reliever Sean Hjelle came on in the ninth, earning his fifth save of the year. He allowed a two-out single, before striking out the final hitter for the final out. Hjelle has worked 10 innings in his freshman season, allowing eight hits and no earned runs, striking out 18 with only two walks.
Kentucky (21-8, 7-3 SEC) was limited to five hits in the win, with Storm Wilson charting UK’s lone two-hit game. UK got the big two-RBI double in the sixth inning from JaVon Shelby to take the lead, with UK also getting hits from Kole Cottam and Riley Mahan. A pair of UK school-record hitting streaks were snapped in the loss, including a 23-game streak from Gunnar McNeill and a 21-game stretch from Evan White.
Geoffrey Bramblett (3-1) threw a quality start in a hard-luck loss, working seven innings, allowing five hits and three runs, walking one and striking out nine. Matt Foster worked a shutout eighth inning.
The series will resume on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Alabama (18-12, 5-5 SEC) got on the board first in the third inning, as Georgie Salem led off with a double to centerfield, taking third on a sacrifice bunt. Chandler Avant then smacked a double down the rightfield line, scoring Salem for an early 1-0 lead. Cobie Vance then singled up the middle, scoring Avant from second base.
Kentucky rallied to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, with Cottam leading off with a single, poked to rightfield. Wilson then laid down a bunt single and the throw to first base sailed into shallow rightfield, allowing Cottam to take third and Wilson to move into scoring position. White then struck out swinging at an offspeed pitch in the dirt, but the ball skidded away, allowing Cottam to score from third and White to reach first safely. Shelby then painted a double down the leftfield line, scoring Wilson and White to give UK a 3-2 lead.