KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Kyle Cody allowed two runs in seven inning to pace No. 12 Kentucky to a 10-2 win at Tennessee in the series rubber match, on a perfect Sunday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Kentucky (20-8, 6-3 Southeastern Conference) won its third consecutive series to open conference play, marking a first for the Wildcats since 2013. UK opened its series with the Vols with a 14-5 loss on Friday, before UK bounced back with a 5-4 win on Saturday to set up the rubber-match victory. UK also opened its first two SEC weekends with losses in the series lidlifter, before bouncing back to win the final two games in each series.
The Wildcats opened the scoring with two runs in the second inning, adding a run in the fourth, four in the eighth and three in the ninth inning. Tennessee plated single runs in the fourth and eighth innings.
A native of Chippewa Falls, Wis., Cody (3-1) worked into the eighth inning, allowing five hits and two runs, walking two and striking out eight. He allowed a single run in the fourth inning and exited in the eighth after a pair reached to open the inning.
UK senior reliever Zach Strecker cleaned up the eighth, allowing one run to score on Cody’s line but getting a double play to end the frame.
The Wildcats collected 13 hits in the game, led by a 3-for-5 game with two RBI from Zach Reks. UK also had two-hit games from Evan White and Gunnar McNeill. McNeill extended his hitting streak to a program-record 23 games and White stretched his streak to 21 consecutive games. UK also got hits from JaVon Shelby, Dorian Hairston, Marcus Carson, Riley Mahan and Luke Becker. Sophomore catcher Troy Squires had a career day, going 1-for-2 with a double and three RBI.
Tennessee (17-11, 3-6 SEC) starter Andy Cox (2-3) worked 7.1 innings on 120 pitches, allowing eight hits and four runs, walking two and striking out four. UT used Jon Lipinski, Daniel Vasquez and Alex Harper-Cook in relief.
Kentucky will return to action on Wednesday, hosting No. 4 Louisville in a 7:30 p.m. ET first pitch at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The Wildcats opened the scoring in the second inning, as Reks led off with a single on a 1-2 pitch up the middle. After a sacrifice bunt and a second out, Squires turned on an offering from Cox and pulled it down the line for his second career double, scoring the duo for an early 2-0 lead.
Kentucky added a run in the top of the fourth inning, stretching its lead to 3-0. Hairston singled with one out and was replaced at first by Riley Mahan on a fielder’s choice. Becker then singled and Squires loaded the bases with a five-pitch walk. Wilson then drew a full-count walk to force in Mahan and give UK a three-run advantage.
The Vols mounted a rally in the fourth inning, as Nick Senzel led off with a double down the leftfield line and Vincent Jackson put runners on the corners with a single through the infield on the left side. Jordan Rodgers then hung a sac fly to score Senzel, with Reks throwing to second to keep Jackson at first base.
McNeill doubled with one out in the eighth inning to spark a rally, with Reks following with a single to put runners on the corners. Carson then lofted a pinch-hit single to leftfield to score McNeill. Mahan followed with a 385-foot single into the right-centerfield gap, with Reks and Carson holding to see if it was caught, allowing only Reks to score and Carson to hold at third.
UT plated a run in the eighth inning, as Benito Santiago beat out an infield hit to open the inning and Hall drew a walk to end Cody’s start. UK turned to Strecker, who surrendered a single to Senzel to load the bases for Jackson. Jackson beat out the back end of a double play to score Santiago, before Strecker induced an inning-ending double play to escape the jam.
UK opened the ninth inning with hits from White and Shelby and a walk to McNeill to load the bases with no outs. Reks then singled up the middle to score White and Shelby. After a wild pitch moved McNeill and Reks into scoring position, Mahan scored McNeill with a sac fly.