Tennessee leads all way to beat UK 14-5

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Jordan Rodgers hit for the cycle and drove in eight runs, leading Tennessee to a 14-5 over No. 12 Kentucky in the series opener, on Friday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Kentucky (18-8, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) suffered a setback on Friday vs. the Vols, who opened the game with two runs in the first and a run in the third inning, before breaking open the game with six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Wildcats fought back to plate five in the eighth, including a two-run homer from Gunnar McNeill. UT then answered with a five-run bottom half, with Rodgers hitting for the cycle with a three-run, two-out homer, the fifth straight hit for UT.

McNeill extended his hitting streak to a program record 21 games with a 2-for-4 game. It marks the longest streak in UK history, with complete records dating back to 2002, passing a 20-game streak in 2004 from former catcher Caleb Stewart. UK sophomore first baseman Evan White also extended a historic streak, stretching his to 19 games with a two-RBI double, adding a stolen base.

UK also got hits from Troy Squires, Storm Wilson and Marcus Carson, with JaVon Shelby driving in a run and scoring after reaching on an error. Luke Becker finished 2-for-3 with a walk.

UK starter Zack Brown (1-5) worked five innings, allowing 10 hits and nine runs, walking one and striking out five. Dylan Dwyer started the sixth inning, helping save the UK bullpen for the weekend. A native of Murray, Ky., Dwyer worked the final three innings. 

Tennessee (17-9, 3-4 SEC) starter Aaron Soto (3-0) earned the win in his second career start. Soto worked 7.1 innings, allowing three hits and two runs, walking two and striking out three. UT turned to William Neely in the eighth, allowing a hit and run. Eric Freeman and Jon Lipinski worked through the eighth.

The series will resume on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Tennessee opened the scoring in its first inning, with Chris Hall reaching on a one-out error and Nick Senzel doubling into the right-centerfield gap to score Hall. Vincent Jackson then singled off the glove of Becker, moving to his right, to push Senzel to third with one out for Jordan Rogers. Rogers dropped a single into right-centerfield to score Senzel and give UT a 2-0 lead.

The Vols stretched their lead in the bottom of the third inning, with Hall leading off with a full-count walk, scoring on a double off the wall in leftfield from Rogers.

Tennessee put the game out of reach in the fifth inning, plating six runs on five hits and two hit batters.

The Wildcats got on the board in the eighth as Becker drew a leadoff walk and after a pop out, Wilson singled through the right side. White then greeted Neely with a double off the wall in left-centerfield, scoring the duo. White stole third and Shelby then scored him with a grounder, reaching on an error.

UT got five runs back in the eighth, including the bomb from Rodgers.

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