STARKVILLE, Miss. – Zach Reks hit a two-run game-winning triple in the ninth inning to push No. 8 Kentucky to a 5-2 win over No. 19 Mississippi State in front of 9,256 fans at Dudy Noble Field. The Wildcats are now 4-0 on the road in Southeastern Conference play for the first time since 1949, when they took two at both Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt.
Logan Salow snuffed out a Mississippi State threat in the bottom of the eighth, retiring a pair of batters with the go-ahead runs on second and third, and the Cats rallied with three runs in the ninth. Connor Heady drew a one-out walk – his third consecutive free pass of the night – and Tristan Pompey also walked to set up Reks’ heroics. The senior outfielder stroked a line drive to centerfield that squirted all the way to the wall, driving in both Heady and Pompey. Reks then slid under the tag on a passed ball for the final score.
The Cats moved to 8-2 and remain atop the SEC standings. It was the 11th win against ranked teams, the most since the 2014 club had 12.
AT THE PLATE
Reks’ two-run triple in the ninth proved to be the game-winning hit but credit to Tristan Pompey and Connor heady for significant contributions on the night. Both Pompey and Heady walked three times and Pompey drove in each of the Cats’ first two runs on the night. Heady also scored twice on the night.
ON THE MOUND
Starter Sean Hjelle was terrific, giving up just one earned run in 6.1 innings, an unlucky inside-the-park home run when Zach Reks slipped on a sprinkler head along the left field line. Hjelle retired 10 straight from the first through the fourth inning and worked around errors in both the fifth and sixth innings. Zach Pop got the Cats out of the seventh and the combination of Colton Cleary and Logan Salow escaped the eighth unscathed before Salow closed out the game with a perfect ninth.
Bottom 1st – Jake Mangum doubled down the LF line and moved to third on a Ryan Gridley groundout. Mangum scored on a passed ball with two out. Miss. State 1, UK 0.
Top 5th – Marcus Carson was hit by a pitch and sacrificed to second by Troy Squires. Connor Heady and Evan White walked to load the bases. Tristan Pompey hit a SAC fly to LF, scoring Carson. UK 1, Miss. State 1.
Top 7th – Heady and White drew two-out walks. Pompey singled to CF to score Heady. UK 2, Miss. State 1.
Bottom 7th – Cody Brown hits an inside-the-park home run to LF. UK 2, Miss. State 2.
Top 9th – Heady and Pompey walked. Zach Reks tripled to CF, scoring Heady and Pompey. Reks scored on a passed ball. UK 5, Miss. State 2.
- Kentucky is now 4-0 on the road in SEC play for the first time since 1949.
o The Cats won two at Georgia Tech and two at Vanderbilt that season.
- Kentucky is now 11-6 against ranked teams this season, winning 11 of the past 14 games.
- Junior 1B Evan White went 1-for-3 with two walks and currently owns an eight-game hit streak.
o White now has 180 career hits, good for 18th place on UK’s career hits list.
- Sophomore OF Tristan Pompey went 1-of-1 with three walks and two RBI.
o Pompey now has hit safely in 18 of his past 20 games.
- Senior OF Zach Reks hit a game-winning two-run triple in the ninth.
o It was Reks’ seventh game-winning RBI of the season and ninth of his career. No other UK player has more than two this season.
- Senior IF Connor Heady went 0-for-1 with two runs scored and three walks.
Kentucky and Miss. State meet in the middle game of the three-game set at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Fans can listen on the UK Sports Network via UKathletics.com and iHeart Radio, as well as on 630 AM WLAP.