NASHVILLE — Kyle Cody fired seven-shutout, four-hit innings and a two-out, three-run double from Troy Squires provided the difference in a 3-0 win over No. 4 Vanderbilt in the series finale, on a perfect Sunday afternoon at Charles Hawkins Field.
Kentucky (23-12, 9-6 Southeastern Conference) posted a thrilling win in a pitching duel for the third consecutive game in the series. Vanderbilt won the opener, 3-0 and then used an eighth-inning comeback to post a 3-2 win in the middle game of the series.
With the bases juiced and two out in a scoreless game in the top of the seventh inning, Squires yanked a bases-clearing double to rightfield, giving Cody a three-run cushion. Cody fired a shutout seventh, before turning the ball over to the bullpen, which wiggled out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the bottom of the ninth.
It marks just the third shutout at home for the Commodores since 2012 and the second in 2016, as South Carolina also blanked Vandy 4-0.
A 6-foot-7, 245-pound native of Chippewa Falls, Wis., Cody allowed just four singles and three walks in seven shutout innings, equaling his career high with eight strikeouts. It marked the sixth quality start for Cody in nine outings in 2016 and the 16th of his career.
With a three-run lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, UK turned to freshman righty Justin Lewis in relief. Lewis worked around a one-out walk in a shutout eighth, stretching his shutout streak to 20.2 consecutive innings.
Kentucky freshman righty Sean Hjelle worked the ninth inning for his sixth save of the year. Hjelle worked around a hit, walk and hit batter in the inning, escaping the bases-loaded, two-out jam. Hjelle, a 6-foot-11 product of Minnesota, is tied for 11th in UK single-season history in saves, just 13 games into his UK career.
The Wildcats collected seven hits against the talented Vanderbilt pitching staff on Sunday, with Squires charting a career-high two hits and three RBI. UK also got two-hit game from Zach Reks and Storm Wilson, with JaVon Shelby drawing a pair of walks and Tristan Pompey ripping a key double.
Vanderbilt (28-8, 9-6 SEC) starter Patrick Raby worked four shutout, two-hit innings in his first SEC start. He allowed only a walk and struck out five, before lefty John Kilichowski (0-1) took over to start the fifth inning in a scoreless game. Kilichowski worked 1.1 innings, allowing a hit and a walk, striking out one. With a pair in scoring position and one out, Vandy turned to Matt Ruppenthal in relief. Ruppenthal got a key strikeout for the second out with the bases loaded, before allowing a bases-clearing double. Lefty Evan Steele took over in the eighth inning and closer Ben Bowden worked the ninth.
Kentucky returns to action on Tuesday, traveling to face No. 6 Louisville in a 6 p.m. ET first pitch at Jim Patterson Stadium.
The Wildcats opened the scoring in the top of the seventh inning, with Reks leading off with a single to rightfield. Shelby then drew a full-count walk and Luke Becker advanced the pair into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Pompey drew a walk to load the bases for pinch hitter Riley Mahan, who struck out. Squires then drilled the first pitch he saw over the head of Jeren Kendall in rightfield, scoring the trio to clear the bases.