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.