COLUMBIA, Mo. – Sean Hjelle pitched eight shutout innings, Riley Mahan homered and the defense turned in a tremendous effort as No. 10 Kentucky scored a series-opening 5-2 victory over Missouri on a beautiful Friday night in Middle America.
Hjelle, who moved to 5-2 on the season, turned in a brilliant effort, giving up just five hits and one walk while striking out eight on a career-high 121 pitches. The 6-foot-11 sophomore has been sensational on the road in his three Southeastern Conference starts, giving up just one run in 23.1 innings, good for a 0.39 ERA.
The Cats (23-11, 9-4 SEC) grinded out at bats throughout the night, posting single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings before tacking on two more in the sixth. Mahan hit his team-leading sixth home run of the season in the fourth and Tristan Pompey continued his hot streak, collecting at least three hits for the third time in four games to lead the offense.
Hjelle outdueled top pitching prospect Tanner Houck, the fourth time in five weeks he’s helped UK win the opening game of a league series. Senior lefty Logan Salow came on to record the final two outs of the game after a pair of Missouri home runs sliced the lead to 5-2, earning his seventh save of the season in the process.
Top 3rd – Connor Heady walked. Tristan Pompey doubled to RF, moving Heady to third. Evan White walked. Zach Reks grounded into a double play with Heady scoring on the play. UK 1, Mizzou 0.
Top 4th – Riley Mahan homered to LCF. UK 2, Mizzou 0.
Top 5th – White lined a single to LF. Reks ripped a ball off the first baseman’s glove just inside the line that was ruled an error, with White coming all the way around to score. UK 3, Mizzou 0.
Top 6th – Mahan reached second on a fielding error by the left fielder and moved to third on a balk. Luke Becker drove in Mahan with a SAC fly to CF. Marcus Carson and Heady were hit by pitches. Pompey scored Carson with a line single to RCF. UK 5, Mizzou 0.
Bottom 9th – Trey Harris homered to LF. Brett Bond homered to CF. UK 5, Mizzou 2.